Linked List: September 2011

VMware Fusion 4 

My thanks to VMware for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed to promote VMware Fusion 4, the newest version of their software that lets you run Windows and Mac applications side by side. In addition to Windows, VMware Fusion supports running over 200 operating systems on your Mac, including OS X Lion. It even supports the new Windows 8 developer preview.

New features include drag-and-drop installation, support for adding Windows apps to Launchpad, and up to 2.5× faster 3D graphics than previous versions. VMware Fusion 4 is available now for an introductory promotional price of $49.99.

The Talk Show, Episode 61 

Topics on the show: this week’s new Kindles, next week’s new iPhone(s?), and the last James Bond film, Quantum of Solace. Brought to you by the fine folks at Sifter and Sourcebits.

Amazon and Apple vs. Everyone Else 

Michael Mace:

Google’s reaction to Kindle Fire speaks volumes about its goals for Android. Kindle Fire is based on Android, and will run Android applications. Android has been struggling in the tablet space, so you’d expect that Google would be delighted to have Amazon on the Android bandwagon. But you’d be wrong. Let’s look at the press release Google issued today to welcome Amazon to the Android family. Wait a minute, there is no press release. Okay, so let’s look on the Google blog. Nothing at all. Maybe a tweet from Andy Rubin? Dead silence.

Autonomy Strikes Back 


Oracle seems a little confused about the sequence of events and origins of the data it has received, something that would suggests it needs better management of and insight into the unstructured data on its internal systems. We would be delighted to help.


‘The Top 6 Alternatives to the Kindle Fire’ 

Isn’t this piece from Matt Burns exactly backwards? Is there a single AOL/TechCrunch reader, even one, who is better-informed by having a writer at a big-name technology site claim that any of these tablets are worth consideration? Why would anyone buy any of these turds instead of an iPad or Kindle Fire?

Put another way: Was the purpose of this piece to help readers understand the actual implications of Amazon’s entry in the tablet market? Or to create the false impression that the tablet market is more competitive and complicated than it actually is?

Oracle Issues Statement 

This is the funniest thing you will read all day. How can you not love a huge corporation that communicates so frankly, so pugnaciously?

Don’t miss the follow-up, “Another Whopper from Autonomy CEO Mike Lynch”.


Finally, a Safari extension that adds “Finally” to all headers on (Via David Chartier.)

Nice Work If You Can Get It 

Aislyn Greene, reporting for The Puget Sound Business Journal:

Microsoft Corp. will rake in $444 million in revenue in 2012 from its patent-licensing agreements with Android device makers, according to Goldman Sachs analysts.

$180 million alone from Samsung, apparently.

Authentic Jobs Campaign for Charity: Water 

To celebrate the sixth anniversary of Authentic Jobs, my friend Cameron Moll is raising money for a great cause: bringing clean water to Ethiopia. Love this story he just posted today about it.

There’s magic in having a big audience like DF’s. “Sounds like a great cause, but what difference would a few bucks from me make?” But there are tens of thousands of you reading this. If just a few hundred of you donate, say, five bucks, boom, that’s thousands of dollars.

Also, since Charity: Water is a non-profit 501(c)(3), it’s a good time to mention again Apple’s new charitable matching program.

App Store Non-Rejection of the Week 

From the customer reviews:

There aren’t any turtles in the game.

As Shaun Inman tweeted, it’s hard to believe this app ever made it through the review process, and even harder to believe it’s still there a month later.

Update: Don’t miss the developer’s website. And the background from the screenshots is ripped off from Konami’s NES classic, Contra.

Touch Is Good, but Doesn’t Preclude Buttons 

Lukas Mathis makes a good case that the Kindle Touch should still have buttons for page-turning.

Giving Them Away 

“The tablet is valued at $349.” (Via Joe Stracci.)

China Unicom Exec: ‘iPhone 5’ to Support 21 Mbps HSPA+ 

The rumor run-up has been so odd this time around.

New England Claim Chowdah 

45 out of 45 of ESPN’s baseball “experts” predicted that the Boston Red Sox — “Best Team Ever!” — would win the American League East this year.

‘Finally’ Actually Fits Here 

Sean Hollister:

Moto CEO Sanjay Jha justified the original $800 price tag by touting the tablet’s upgradability to Verizon’s speedy 4G LTE network. The upgrade, promised “shortly after launch,” then in 90 days, then summer, and at some point “no time flat,” took seven months to get here. Tomorrow, the vaporware condenses into reality, as Motorola and Verizon are finally putting that LTE module where it belongs. If you’re a Xoom 3G owner, simply visit our source link tomorrow for instructions and expect to wait six business days to get your 4G on. Alternatively, if LTE kept you from making a purchase in the first place, there’ll be a ready-made Motorola Xoom with the module already inserted for $499.99 this October 13th on a two-year agreement.

I bet there are a lot of people who’ll be in line to buy a two-year contract for a seven-month-old Xoom.

RIM to Slash Prices on PlayBook 

Paul Kunert, Channel Register:

The latest price-hacking measures have yet to reach Europe, although telco launch partner for the PlayBook Carphone Warehouse confirmed it is now giving PlayBooks away for free when bought as part of a mobile contract with its BlackBerry device. […]

“It’s a dog with fleas,” claimed one reseller. “Demand is very poor”.

Is amateur hour still over?

Amazon Silk Uses WebKit 

Funny, I simply assumed that Silk’s front-end rendering engine was WebKit. The thought that they might use something else or roll a brand-new one never even entered my mind.

Chris Espinosa on Amazon Silk 

Chris Espinosa ponders some of the strategic implications of Silk’s cloud-backed architecture:

Fire isn’t a noun, it’s a verb, and it’s what Amazon has done in the targeted direction of Google. This is the first shot in the new war for replacing the Internet with a privatized merchant data-aggregation network.

They don’t need to store or track your personal browsing history. Just the aggregate data alone is a potential gold mine.

Introducing Amazon Silk 

Amazon explains its radically re-imagined web browser. Fascinating. Here’s Amazon’s FAQ for Silk, and the terms and conditions page is an interesting read regarding the significant privacy implications.

Samsung Doesn’t Copy Apple 

See, in their voice recorder app, they put the record button on the right, and the list button on the left.

‘What a Day for Android’ 

MG Siegler:

What a day for Android. It was just pushed behind the scenes as the thing that powers that awesome, cheap Amazon Kindle tablet. And made into that thing you pay Microsoft to use. 

Q: How many times does the word “Android” appear on Amazon’s Kindle Fire page?

A: Once, in the following sentence: “Additional email apps are available in our Amazon Appstore for Android.” It’s a Kindle tablet, not an Android tablet.

Samsung Signs Android Agreement With Microsoft 

Microsoft PR:

Microsoft announced today that it has signed a definitive agreement with Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd., to cross-license the patent portfolios of both companies, providing broad coverage for each company’s products. Under the terms of the agreement, Microsoft will receive royalties for Samsung’s mobile phones and tablets running the Android mobile platform. In addition, the companies agreed to cooperate in the development and marketing of Windows Phone.

True or false: Microsoft profits more from Android than does Google.

Ryan Block on the Kindle Fire’s Resemblance to the PlayBook 

Ryan Block called it, two days ago:

From there, Amazon’s team determined they could build a tablet without the help and experience of Lab 126, so they turned to Quanta, which helped them “shortcut” the development process by using the PlayBook as their hardware template. Of course, it’s never quite that simple, and as I’m told Amazon ran into trouble, and eventually sacrifices were made (like using a slower processor).

Although Amazon did refresh the ID of their PlayBook derivative, I’m told that this first tablet of theirs is “supposed to be pretty poor” and is a “stopgap” in order to get a tablet out the door for the 2011 holiday season — which doesn’t exactly leave the best taste in my mouth.

My question, though: if it’s based on or even just very much similar to the BlackBerry PlayBook, why is the Kindle Fire only $199 and the PlayBook started at $499?

Amazon Unveils $199 Kindle Fire Tablet 

7-inches, $199, custom Android interface.

T-Mobile Chief Marketing Officer Posts Open Letter ‘About the iPhone’ 

One-word translation: Sigh.

PlayStation Web App 

Charles Ying:

This is the new PlayStation Video Unlimited service. This PlayStation app runs at a full 60 frames per second (when you see it on a PS3), has tons of 3D graphics effects, full-speed 1080p video playback, and a fluid, hardware accelerated, animated user experience. What you may not know is that this is a web app.

Looks great.

Andy Rooney to Retire From ‘60 Minutes’ 

What a great career.

Volkswagen’s New Beetle Page 

Now scroll.

Instagram 2.0 Filters 

Owen Billcliffe has a comprehensive look at the filters in Instagram 2.0:

Across the board distinctive elements of each filter have been compromised. Filters that were washed out are now more contrasty. Filters that were contrasty are now more washed out. They’ve all drifted towards the same look.

I agree with his conclusions. Live previewing of filters and larger image sizes are nice ideas, but they’ve yanked the carpet out on the old filters. Say what you want about the whole idea of applying gimmicky retro-style filters to camera photos, but at least previously, Instagram’s assortment of filters was distinctive. With these new ones, most of them are indistinguishable from one another. I find it way harder to choose one because the differences are so subtle, and that makes the app less fun to use.

That’s the bottom line: they made Instagram less fun.

Joe Hewitt: ‘Web Technologies Need an Owner’ 

Joe Hewitt:

Many people seem to assume that the Web will one day become the one and only client computing platform on Earth, therefore it must not be controlled by anyone. This is a dangerous assumption. The HTML, CSS, and JavaScript triumvirate are just another platform, like Windows and Android and iOS, except that unlike those platforms, they do not have an owner to take responsibility for them.

It’s nearly impossible to make radical change through consensus. Be sure to read his follow-up too:

So, my definition of the Web then is resources loaded over the Internet using HTTP and then displayed in a hyperlink-capable client. This definition is liberating. It helps me see a future beyond HTML which is still the Web.

Be Careful What You Wish For 

May 2007 Reuters story:

Nokia Oyj hopes Apple Inc.’s highly anticipated iPhone will boost consumer appetite for pricier mobile phones with features such as music and video, Nokia’s Chief Financial Officer said on Monday.

So-called smart phones allow users to surf the Web, take photos, enjoy music and video and sometimes games, in addition to making calls. Many are priced above $400, before subsidies by mobile carriers.

He was right.

John Calhoun’s Mac Classic ‘Glider’ Coming to iOS 

Blake Patterson, writing for Touch Arcade:

Calhoun told me that, from the view of an old-school designer, he absolutely loves iOS as a game platform. He got out of game writing way back when largely because the “big guys” came in and basically stole the show from indie developers like himself. He sees iOS as an excellent opportunity for indies to get their work out there and embraced by gamers, and it’s a notion backed up by so many one-man home runs we’ve seen since the App Store went live.

In a way, the old Mac gaming era was reminiscent of today’s iOS — lots of creativity from small indies. The difference is the size of the audience, tiny then, humongous now.

September Collapse of Red Sox Could Be Worst Ever 

Nate Silver crunches the numbers.

‘Let’s Talk iPhone’ Apple Event Next Week 

Something tells me there’s only one new iPhone.

Speaking of Facebook 

Nik Cubrilovic:

Facebook are front-and-center in the new privacy debate just as Microsoft were with security issues a decade ago.

Will there be a cottage industry of privacy-protection software for Facebook users? That seems hard to believe.

‘That’s a Load of Crap’ 

That’s Ben Brooks, regarding Mike Elgan’s contention that:

Apple isn’t so much a consumer electronics company as it is a media platform.

Can You Sign Up for Spotify Without Facebook? 

Not any more.

Amazon to Relaunch California Associate Accounts 

Mark Booth has good news from Amazon.

‘Touch Sensitive’ 

iPad-exclusive comic by the absurdly-talented Chris Ware, available as a 99-cent in-app purchase in the McSweeney’s app. So great.

Doug Mataconis makes the case that the Netflix/Qwikster split was caused by our outdated copyright system:

This is the point where Netflix tried to argue that you should only count users that actually connect digitally and actually watch a film. While they originally offered digital streaming bundled with DVD rental, many of the rural customers likely never actually “connect” to the digital product. This argument may have worked for a while, but eventually Hollywood said, “No way. Here is how it is going to work. You will pay us a $/user/month for anyone that has the ‘right’ to connect to our content — regardless of whether they view it or not.” This was the term that changed Netflix pricing.

With the discs-by-mail business, they never needed permission from the movie studios. With streaming, they do.

It’s the Content Providers 

The Angry Drunk:

While the Netflix changes are certainly annoying, and the messaging was less than stellar, we need to make sure to remember where the blame ultimately lies  —  with the content providers. Until they decide to get with the program content distributors like Netflix and Apple will always be at their mercy and customers will continue to suffer.

Featuring Yours Truly Taking Off His Pants 

Yuvi Zalkow’s “video tribute” to Merlin Mann’s and my joint presentation at SXSW 2009, “Obsession Times Voice”. This made my day.

‘I Tip Profusely’ 

This week’s The Talk Show:

The Netflix split, Apple’s upcoming iPhone 5 announcement, Tim Cook, Microsoft’s 30% take, HP’s webOS layoffs, Steven Spielberg’s regrets, the magic of Amazon Prime, and Casino Royale.

Brought to you by HelpSpot and Rackspace Cloud.

‘Buy Your Own Device’ Policies Growing in Corporate IT 

Verne G. Kopytoff, reporting for the NYT:

A similar B.Y.O.D. program at Citrix Systems, a software maker that also helps its clients implement such programs, saves the company about 20 percent on each laptop over three years. Of the 1,000 or so employees in Citrix’s program, 46 percent have bought Mac computers, according to Paul Martine, Citrix’s chief information officer. “That was a little bit of a surprise.”

When people choose what they get to use, Apple gains. This trend should worry Microsoft.

Another Gem From The Macalope 

So many great bits to choose from this week:

Before they do anything else, the HP board should stop and vote on a resolution to halt the practice of serving liquor at the meetings where they pick new CEOs and decide on their compensation packages.

Verizon Sides With Samsung Against Apple 

Speaking of Apple-v.-Samsung, Verizon filed an amicus brief siding with Samsung. Matt Macari has a good take on what it means, legal-wise, to the case (spoiler: not much). But it also suggests that things aren’t exactly peachy-keen between Verizon and Apple. Makes sense, though: Verizon’s interests are better served in a carrier-dominated industry, rather than a handset-dominated industry, and Apple is heading toward a dominant position.

Italian Samsung Store Features Apple App Icons 

No idea why Apple thinks Samsung rips off their intellectual property. None.

‘Excuse Me, but “Proactive” and “Paradigm”? Aren’t These Just Buzzwords That Dumb People Use to Sound Important?’ 

Company-wide memos from Yahoo’s board and interim CEO. The one from the board — “Jerry, David, Roy” — reads like something that was written in English, translated to another language by a computer, then translated back from that language to the bureaucratic dialect of English. The one from interim CEO Tim Morse isn’t much better. So many words to say nothing at all. 

My thanks to Lanbito for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed. Lanbito is an online form builder optimized for creating forms that look great on the iPhone and iPad. They’ve built two terrific user experiences. On the one side, their drag-and-drop form builder lets you create and design your forms easily. On the other side, the forms you create look and feel just perfect in mobile web browsers. They’ve got a bunch of great themes to choose from, shortened URLs perfect for tweeting, and the data from the forms is saved to Google Spreadsheets.

It’s a great service with a clear purpose. And you can try it free of charge, for up to 100 form entries for month.

AnandTech Reviews Apple’s New Thunderbolt Display 

Anand Lal Shimpi:

The real improvements here are obviously those enabled by Thunderbolt. Apple is turning its line of displays into docks for its mobile computers rather than just external displays. It started with integrating MagSafe and has culminated in GigE and FireWire controllers now a part of the display. For MacBook Air owners who don’t have options for these high speed interfaces to begin with, the Thunderbolt Display is a must-have. If your MBA is a secondary or tertiary computer that only gets taken on trips perhaps the Thunderbolt Display isn’t so life changing. For those users who have moved from older MacBook Pros to the 13-inch MBA however, the Thunderbolt Display is a wonderful companion.

Not bad for a platform that’s losing to Android.

Amazon Press Event Next Week 

Interesting that they do these in New York.

Update: A bunch of readers question why I think that’s interesting, given that the publishing industry is centered squarely in NYC. I didn’t say it was surprising, just interesting — it showcases that Amazon is playing to a different audience. Less focused on the device’s hardware and software, more focused on the media content the device will allow users to enjoy.

Here’s the Thing About Apple’s ‘Recent’ Success 

Grant Huhn:

Apple is doing, and has been doing, things much different than any company — in any industry — for at least the past ten years. Apple’s products and operation are vastly superior. Many people have recognized this all along. Some people will never recognize it.

It’s just now the numbers confirm it.

I think it started as soon as Jobs took the helm in 1997. Everything that’s happened since is epitomized by that bondi blue original iMac.

Business Insider, Over-Aggregation, and the Mad Grab for Traffic 

Ryan McCarthy on Business Insider’s Huffington Post-style practice of regurgitating the original work of others:

And, of course, Business Insider isn’t alone in the practice of repurposing content for no other reason then keeping pageviews. But surely, in each case, Business Insider is actually keeping us one click away from interesting, original coverage, not bringing us closer to it or informing us about it.

Sites like The Huffington Post and Business Insider are the inevitable result of an advertising model that counts page views. CPM is a corrupting revenue model; sites like HuffPo and BI are what you get when you’ve mastered that model.

A Business Insider Retrospective 

Marco Arment:

I wonder if they’ll reprint this one.

The Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network Charity Walk 

One of my favorite things to do here at DF is direct your attention to worthy charitable causes. This one, though, is very personal — my wife Amy is raising money for a cause that means a lot to our family. It’d mean a lot to me if the DF audience could help her reach her goal.

Possession Versus Utilization 

Horace Dediu, analyzing the discrepancy between iPhone and Android smartphone market share, and usage share of paid Wi-Fi services at airports and during flights:

What the data seems to suggest therefore is that for data services the iPhone is a far more popular tool than Android. But for in-app ad impressions and browsing the products are used in a similar manner.

The big difference is however that the services where iPhone utilization is high are those where users have to pay something. Most (if not all) of the ad impressions in apps are for free apps. So ad consumption scales with possession. But non-free services don’t. This data seems to support the hypothesis that Android users are disproportionately less willing to spend money (note that the data does not say that users don’t have money, but simply that they are not spending it).

iPhone users and Android users are simply very different. And consider, too, that Google is probably just fine with Android’s don’t-want-to-pay-for-anything user base: Google doesn’t really care about selling anything to Android users, they just want to show them ads.

iOS Devices Dominate Airport Wi-Fi Usage 

Boingo Wireless reports that smartphones and tablets now account for 59 percent of airport Wi-Fi connections. Ina Fried, writing at some website:

Apple’s iOS continues to dominate the mobile space, accounting for 83 percent of the mobile total. Combined, all Android devices are still a distant fourth place behind the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch when it comes to popularity on Boingo’s network.

Insert your own witticism about Android “winning” here.

Meg Whitman Is Named Hewlett-Packard CEO 

Apotheker held the job for 11 months.

Apotheker to Take Home $25 Million in Severance From HP 

Here’s how HP’s stock did under his leadership. Other than setting fire to the company’s campus, I’m not sure how he could have done worse.

Things Apple Is Worth More Than 

Beleaguered no more. (Via Kottke.)

SEO for Non-Dicks 

Matt Gemmell:

Stop wilfully conflating optimisation with being a slimy liar. Stop being a dick on the internet. Write something interesting, and keep doing it for months and years. SEO will then follow naturally.

Hard to disagree with even a word of his advice.

Cringely Called It 

Cringely, back in February:

Then there’s Meg Whitman, who expected at this point to have resigned from the HP board to spend all her time running California as governor. But that didn’t happen, so now what is she to do? You can only get so many pedicures. She’ll eventually get around to hip-checking Apotheker and taking his job.

Can’t get more accurate with a prediction than that.

Russian Man Climbs Moscow Skyscraper Without Safety Equipment 

Whenever I watch a video like this, my hands sweat profusely.

‘The Madness Must Stop’ 

Larry Ellison called it, the day Apotheker was named HP’s CEO:

“I’m speechless,” he wrote in an email to the Wall Street Journal. “HP had several good internal candidates… but instead they pick a guy who was recently fired because he did such a bad job of running SAP.” [...]

“None of the HP board members own much HP stock so they have little to lose,” he wrote. “But the HP employees, customers, partners and shareholders will suffer. The HP board needs to resign en masse… right away. The madness must stop.”

He was wrong about one thing, though. The madness didn’t have to stop.

I ♥ Skeuomorphism 

Cleverness from Robert Padbury.

The Age of Mechanical Reproduction 

Paul Ford, back in July, a lovely gut-wrenching piece for The Morning News. Read it, you won’t regret it. Then, when you’re done, read today’s postscript.

Hewlett-Packard: Worst Board Ever? 

Shira Ovide, writing for the WSJ, runs down the track record of HP’s board over the last decade. Every time you think they’ve hit rock bottom, they find a way to make things even worse.

Paczkowski: Apple’s iPhone Event to Be Held on October 4, Tim Cook to Host 

John Paczkowski called it back on August 1, reporting that the event would be in October, not September, as is usual for Apple’s fall event. Now he’s saying Tuesday 4 October, specifically. Sounds right.

As for what is going to be announced, the bottom line is that Apple has effectively kept everyone in the dark. A5 processor, better camera, duh. But other than that, no one knows shit. The iPhone 4 might have been a complete surprise, too, if not for the lost-in-a-bar prototype.

NYT: Hewlett-Packard Board Meets on Replacing CEO 

Quentin Hardy, reporting for the NYT:

Less than a year after hiring Léo Apotheker as its chief executive, Hewlett-Packard’s directors were meeting Wednesday to consider replacing him, according to several people with knowledge of the board’s actions. The leading candidate was Meg Whitman, the former chief executive of eBay, who was sought for her ability to run a large technology company, they said.

The surprise move revealed not only the confusion inside the company over its strategy, but also the directors’ difficulties in choosing the leadership of the company.

You don’t say.

‘Good Art Is a Kind of Magic’ 

Frank Chimero flags a 1996 exchange on writing and art between David Foster Wallace, Jonathan Franzen, and Kurt Vonnegut.

How Netflix Lost Its Glamor and Its Way 

John Martellaro:

A shrewder group of executives would have realized that streaming would become the future and never have provided it to DVD renters for free in the first place. If a thing has value, and it costs you money to obtain and deliver, you charge for it. Good CEOs know that. Customers who wanted streaming content would have a choice: pay for streaming or forego it. Instead, Netflix gave away something of value, acclimated the customers to an entitlement, then abruptly shocked them with the real costs. Compare that to Apple TV where, if you want something of value, good content without commercials, you pay for it.

Interesting point. Really does seem like Netflix has lost its way.

Microsoft to Take 30 Percent Cut of Metro Apps Under Windows 8 

Daniel Eran Dilger:

If Microsoft refuses to allow existing Windows apps to run on ARM tablets, that would force Apple to convert iTunes to a Metro app and begin paying it a 30 percent cut unless iTunes remained free, if Apple decided it made sense to distribute iTunes on Windows 8 tablets in the first place. Microsoft has not yet spelled out any plans to charge a 30 percent fee on in-app purchases, but such a policy would suddenly become possible on Windows once Microsoft erected its own Apple-like software store.

So many implications to this stuff. I doubt Apple would ever do a version of iTunes that goes through Microsoft’s app store, and they may not need to, even if Metro gains fast adoption. The purpose of iTunes for Windows is to support syncing stuff to iPods, iPhones, and iPads — but iCloud is intended to eliminate the Mac or PC as your digital hub. But still, it’s interesting to contemplate a Windows where iTunes isn’t allowed.

What Netflix Could Have Said This Week 

Matt Drance pens a “why we’re splitting in two” explanation from an alternate universe.

“Netflix Classic” is a way better name for the discs-by-mail spinoff, agreed, but I suspect one unstated reason for the split is that they’re preparing to sell one or both of the post-split companies, and thus they want to keep the existing brand entirely on the streaming side. Drance’s explanation would go over better with Netflix users, yes, but it’s not just better-written — it’s a different strategy, and one that I think is at odds with Netflix’s actual goals here.

Still, though, it’s a bit depressing to see a company that people love make decisions that people dislike. That aforelinked Oatmeal comic isn’t really a great metaphor, but it conveys the frustration users are feeling, as they look at a future where the overall discs-plus-streaming Netflix experience is both worse and more expensive.

The Joy of Tech Comic on the Netflix Split 

Another comic with a more cohesive explanation for the Netflix split.

The Oatmeal: Why Netflix Is Splitting Itself in Two 

Makes more sense than Netflix’s own explanation.

In Windows Phone 7 News 

Developers can’t build a single binary that runs in both Windows Phone 7.0 and 7.5? (Via Steve Troughton-Smith.)

Samuel L. Ipsum 

“Do I look like a placeholder text?!”

How to Clean Apple Products 

Great support resource from Apple.

Inside an Amazon Warehouse 

Spencer Soper, reporting for The Morning Call on the working conditions in Amazon’s Allentown, PA warehouse:

During summer heat waves, Amazon arranged to have paramedics parked in ambulances outside, ready to treat any workers who dehydrated or suffered other forms of heat stress. Those who couldn’t quickly cool off and return to work were sent home or taken out in stretchers and wheelchairs and transported to area hospitals. And new applicants were ready to begin work at any time.

An emergency room doctor in June called federal regulators to report an “unsafe environment” after he treated several Amazon warehouse workers for heat-related problems. The doctor’s report was echoed by warehouse workers who also complained to regulators, including a security guard who reported seeing pregnant employees suffering in the heat.

How to Revert Safari 5.1 to Its Old Single-Process Mode 

Jason Sims:

Annoyed by Safari 5’s tendency to spontaneously reload pages when you didn’t ask it to? There’s a workaround for it, but it introduces a few problems of its own. Some Safari extensions will not work, and some of the new gestures won’t work either.

What you do is enable Safari’s hidden Debug menu, and turn off the on-by-default “Use Multi-process Windows” option. I ran Safari like this for a few hours yesterday, and it seems to help with Safari 5.1’s general sluggishness (when you have a lot of windows and tabs open) too. But that fact that most Safari extensions (or at least the ones I care about) no longer work in this mode is a deal-breaker for me.

What I’m trying today is switching to the WebKit nightly builds.

HP Begins Layoffs at Palm Division 

John Paczkowski:

The company, which announced plans to shutter its webOS hardware business back in August, is sacking hundreds of employees as a result. Sources close to HP say the company plans to lay off as many as 525 employees, and that it began carrying out that dreadful duty this week.

That’s a lot of good talent hitting the market.

Instagram 2.0 

Sweet update to one of my very favorite iPhone apps.

Apple Releases Major Update to Final Cut Pro X 

Jim Dalrymple:

“We got a lot of feedback from our professional users,” Richard Townhill, Apple’s senior director applications marketing, told The Loop. “We listened to the pros and have taken their top feature requests and put them in this update.”

Final Cut Pro now has Xsan support, which includes projects and events. With Xsan support, users can access the same source media while creating separate projects on the SAN. Of course, this means that users can edit from any system attached to the SAN.

The new version also includes support for Rich XML import and export. XML interchange gives users access to third-party workflows like high-end visual effects, color grading and media asset management. This includes products like Blackmagic Design’s DaVinci Resolve and Square Box System’s CatDV.


Apple Tops ACSI Customer Satisfaction Survey for Eighth Consecutive Year 

American Consumer Satisfaction Index:

“In the eight years that Apple has led the PC industry in customer satisfaction, its stock price has increased by 2,300%,” remarks Claes Fornell, founder of the ACSI and author of The Satisfied Customer: Winners and Losers in the Battle for Buyer Preference. “Apple’s winning combination of innovation and product diversification—including spinning off technologies into entirely new directions—has kept the company consistently at the leading edge.”

Mary Jo Foley: Desktop Apps Will Run on Windows 8 on ARM 

Mary Jo Foley disputes the notion that Windows 8 on ARM machines might only support Metro apps:

The user interface (with the desktop mode as well as Metro) is going to be consistent across both X86 and ARM infrastructures. To repeat, the Desktop tile and experience will exist on both Windows 8 on x86/x64 and ARM hardware when Windows 8 is out (presumably next year).

Update: After sleeping on this, I still think Windows 8/ARM going Metro-only is on the table. Foley knows Microsoft far better than I do, and certainly has better sources there. She’s long been one of my favorite Microsoft beat reporters. So I don’t doubt that what she reports is currently the plan. But note that she doesn’t quote anyone, nor link to any definitive documentation from Microsoft stating that classic desktop apps will be available for Windows 8/ARM. What’s been conspicuous since Build is the lack of any definitive statement about this.

Fake Games in the Android Market 

There’s no way scams like this actually work, right? I mean, I’m not surprised there are jerks who submit these apps, and I’m not surprised there are users who get tricked into paying for them. But surely by the time comes for Google to pay these developers, they’ve been flagged as scammers and don’t see a dime of it. Right?

Update: Worth noting, perhaps, that many of the commenters take a “blame the user” stance.

The Unfamiliar 

Matthew Baxter-Reynolds has a piece for The Guardian attempting to paint an overview of the near-future landscapes for developing apps for Mac, iOS, Windows, and Android:

The fact is that if your day job involves sitting in Visual Studio writing C# applications, or building Java applications in Eclipse (which will be most of you — albeit not necessarily in Eclipse), when you fire up Apple’s Xcode and start building CocoaTouch applications in Objective-C you’re going to come face-to-face with a toolset that has not had the sort of love put into it that the open source community has put into the Java toolset and associate platforms, or that Microsoft has put into VS and .NET over the past 10 years.

Objective-C is different than C++ or Java. Xcode is different than Visual Studio or Eclipse, and Xcode 4 is very different from previous versions of Xcode. Baxter-Reynolds certainly wouldn’t be alone in saying that he doesn’t like these differences. But it’s curious to argue Apple developer tools and frameworks are deficient due to a lack of time put into them. In numerous ways, both linguistically and tools-wise, Xcode, Objective-C, and Cocoa/Cocoa Touch are the evolutionary descendants of the NeXT developer platform from 1989.

Apple has been caught on the back foot by the popularity of its tools and is at least one, if not two, generations behind. For example, the iOS version of Objective-C does not have garbage collection.

This shows that Baxter-Reynolds is not familiar with the state of memory management in Cocoa. He’s right that iOS doesn’t have garbage collection, but it’s not because it doesn’t have garbage collection yet. It’s because it never will — and if anything, the smart money is on garbage collection eventually being deprecated in Cocoa on Mac OS X. Automatic Reference Counting (ARC) is Apple’s new answer to the problem garbage collection solves: manual memory management.

The enormousness of the developer base for Windows and Java is such that many developers feel that those environments are “normal”, and anything different is by nature inferior simply because it’s unfamiliar. They’re offended by Xcode/Cocoa/Objective-C, in some way, because they feel entitled to their familiar languages and tools.

Secretly Nimble 

Jason Osgood:

My theory is that Apple stays mum because any particular plan isn’t concrete until the trigger is pulled. It’s better to under-promise and over-deliver.

The Most Patriotic Thing You Can Do 

Mark Cuban:

In these times of “The Great Recession” we shouldn’t be trying to shift the benefits of wealth behind some curtain. We should be celebrating and encouraging people to make as much money as they can. Profits equal tax money. While some people might find it distasteful to pay taxes. I don’t. I find it Patriotic.

Safari Regressions 

Tim Bray:

For some years, Safari has been my default browser. I generally prefer its choices in framing and ergonomics and shortcuts over all others. But I’ve had to stop using it. In recent releases, Safari has been re-architected, with some of the work farmed out to a thing called “WebProcess”. This doesn’t seem to be working out that well.

I’m seeing the same things Bray is with Safari for Mac, particularly the performance problems when you have a lot of windows and tabs open. I’m not ready to switch yet, but I’m starting to shop around. And if anything, Safari 5.1 seems worse on Lion than it does on Snow Leopard.

Looking at the user agent stats for DF over the last year, Chrome for Mac has gained, at least partially at Safari’s expense. For the year-ago month of September 2010, Safari/Mac accounted for 53.2 percent of DF visits, Chrome/Mac for 5.8 percent. This month, to date, Safari/Mac is at 42.2 percent, Chrome/Mac up to 9.6 percent. (iPhone and iPad browsers account for most of the rest; they’re up to 19 percent combined from around 14 percent a year ago.)

‘This Is Math’ 

President Obama, announcing his deficit reduction plan:

“This is not class warfare,” Mr. Obama countered Monday in his Rose Garden remarks. “It is math. The money is going to have to come from someplace.”

A cohesive, simple political strategy to drive a wedge between the Republican anti-tax base and moderate voters who support tax increases on high-income earners. Calling the tax increase on million-dollar-a-year-and-higher income the “Buffett Rule” is good branding, too.

Ten Things to Remember About Netflix While Scratching Your Head About Qwikster 

Good analysis from Dan Frommer.


Decent overview by Chris Foresman of an as-yet-unsolved problem in the still-in-beta iCloud: what to do if you have multiple Apple IDs or a different Apple ID than your MobileMe account. But the headline — “Apple Scrambles to Merge Apple IDs to Stave Off iCloud Sync Mess” — isn’t supported by the reporting. Who says they’re scrambling?

Obviously Apple was aware of the situation from the beginning. It’s possible that they intended to ignore it, to tell people with multiple Apple IDs to just pick one going forward and forget about the other(s), and that all of a sudden, now, in September, they’ve changed their mind and at the last minute are trying to figure out a way to let users merge multiple accounts. It’s also possible that they’ve been working on account merging all along, and simply haven’t revealed it yet because it’s not ready. Does anyone enjoy headlines like this? Why not tack a “finally” in there, too?

Netflix to Split Movies-by-Mail Business Into Separate Company 

Plain-language explanation of the company’s intentions from CEO Reed Hastings:

For the past five years, my greatest fear at Netflix has been that we wouldn’t make the leap from success in DVDs to success in streaming. Most companies that are great at something – like AOL dialup or Borders bookstores – do not become great at new things people want (streaming for us) because they are afraid to hurt their initial business. Eventually these companies realize their error of not focusing enough on the new thing, and then the company fights desperately and hopelessly to recover. Companies rarely die from moving too fast, and they frequently die from moving too slowly.

Makes sense to me. Don’t understand the new movies-by-mail company’s name, though. Qwikster? Why not the obvious: Mailflix?

Virtuoso Piano 

My thanks to Virtuoso Piano for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed. Virtuoso Piano is a very cool, very well done piano app for the iPhone. It looks, feels, and sounds real. I gave it to my son to try and he spent 30 minutes playing with it before I could get my iPhone back.

Virtuoso Piano is a free download from the App Store, and has in-app purchases to unlock extra instrument sounds (it ships with two for free — grand piano and a busted Irish Pub piano). Lots of fun, and worth checking out.

Some Other Tablets You May Have Seen 

Marco Arment, after watching several Build sessions on touchscreen Metro stuff:

Instead, they painfully dance around to avoid it, equivocating and genericizing even the most iPad-specific references with “other tablets”, “some competitors”, “you may have seen”, “out there”.

They know they’re talking about the iPad. Everyone in the auditorium knows they’re talking about the iPad. All of us on the internet know they’re talking about the iPad.

I noticed that too, and agree at times it was awkward. Pride explains some of it, but I noticed they even used “other tablets” when talking about things they clearly believe are inferior compared to Metro, like the iPad’s modality for things like rearranging and deleting items in a list.

Archie Out of Context 

I almost feel bad laughing at some of these.

Supreme Court Halts Texas Execution 

David Savage, reporting for the LA Times:

The U.S. Supreme Court stopped Texas officials Thursday evening from executing a Houston murderer who was sentenced to die after jurors were told he posed a greater danger to public safety because he is black.

The justices acted on an emergency appeal after Texas Gov. Rick Perry and state judges refused to intervene. [...]

The reprieve came nearly two hours into a six-hour window when Buck could have been executed, but state officials did not act while his emergency appeal was pending.

That these reprieves come at the last hour, just like in the movies, always strikes me as crazy and cruel.

Alderaan Shoots First 

Clip from the new Blu-ray edition of Star Wars.

Similar Use of ‘And’ 

“I’ll always remember this as the night that Michael Jordan and I combined for 70 points.”
Chicago Bulls forward Stacey King, after a game in which Michael Jordan scored 69 points

Interesting Use of ‘And’ 

Gina Smith and Larry Press, writing for Byte:

Microsoft risks irrelevance in the rapid-fire tablet market dominated by rivals Apple and Google.

Michael Mace: ‘The Two Most Dangerous Words in Technology Marketing’ 

“Just wait.”

Windows 8 Desktop Apps for ARM: Maybe 

Great reporting by Joanna Stern, in an interview with Mike Anguilo, Microsoft’s VP of Windows planning1:

When asked about Microsoft’s plans to explain the legacy program situation, Angiulo said that “there is a significant amount of marketing that we are capable of doing that can get through — we can afford to tell a story and tell it long enough and clearly enough. We will make sure it is absolutely clear where your legacy apps will run.” However, he followed that up with a kicker: “porting things and whether we open native desktop development are either decisions that are either not made or not announced yet.”

So Microsoft hasn’t yet decided whether legacy (a.k.a. traditional desktop) apps will be able to be recompiled/ported to ARM. No question it’s technically possible — the question is whether they want to allow it. My guess is it’s a political fight inside the company.

  1. “VP of Windows planning”? Microsoft needs to reimagine their job titles. ↩︎︎

Movie Poster of the Week: ‘Burning Man’ 

As Jim Coudal says, “Sweet poster and backstory.”

Windows 8, Traditional Windows Apps, and ARM 

Paul McDougall, InformationWeek:

In a clarification, a Microsoft executive said x86 applications built to run on the desktop version of Windows 8 won’t be compatible with the tablet version of the operating system. The executive also said that the tablet version won’t be able run any applications built for previous versions of Windows.

“We’ve been very clear since the very first CES demos and forward that the ARM product won’t run any x86 applications,” said Stephen Sinofsky, president of Microsoft Windows unit, during a meeting with financial analysts Wednesday.

No one should be surprised that existing x86 binaries won’t run on Windows on ARM. That would require something like Rosetta, the on-the-fly emulation layer that allowed Intel-based Macs to run compiled-for-PowerPC apps.

The question is, though, will Windows developers be able to recompile existing apps for ARM? I’ve been looking for a definitive answer and I don’t think Microsoft has given one. This bit from Sinofsky suggests, though, that they will not:

“The challenge is very interesting. If we allow the world of x86 application support like that, or based on what we call desktop apps in our start yesterday, then there are real challenges in some of the value proposition for [ARM] System on a Chip,” Sinofsky said. “Will battery life be as good, for example? Those applications aren’t written to be really great in the face of limited battery constraints, which is a value proposition of the Metro-style apps.”

I’m feeling good about my prediction the other day that ARM-based Windows machines will be Metro-only. (I say “machines” rather than tablets because I think we’ll see Windows ARM notebooks too.)

Koomey’s Law 

Kate Greene, for MIT Technology Review:

Researchers have, for the first time, shown that the energy efficiency of computers doubles roughly every 18 months.

The conclusion, backed up by six decades of data, mirrors Moore’s law, the observation from Intel founder Gordon Moore that computer processing power doubles about every 18 months. But the power-consumption trend might have even greater relevance than Moore’s law as battery-powered devices — phones, tablets, and sensors — proliferate.

“The idea is that at a fixed computing load, the amount of battery you need will fall by a factor of two every year and a half,” says Jonathan Koomey, consulting professor of civil and environmental engineering at Stanford University and lead author of the study.

Fascinating, really. And I’d say this is what Apple’s been chasing for at least a decade, whilst its competitors remained focused on Moore’s Law. (Thanks to DF reader Aditya Sood.)

Update: Via Kottke, here’s Alexis Madrigal thinking about the implications of this:

Imagine you’ve got a shiny computer that is identical to a Macbook Air, except that it has the energy efficiency of a machine from 20 years ago. That computer would use so much power that you’d get a mere 2.5 seconds of battery life out of the Air’s 50 watt-hour battery instead of the seven hours that the Air actually gets. That is to say, you’d need 10,000 Air batteries to run our hypothetical machine for seven hours. There’s no way you’d fit a beast like that into a slim mailing envelope.

Now think forward 20 years.

Sitting and Standing at Work 

Ergonomic experts at Cornell don’t recommend standing desks, instead:

Sit to do computer work. Sit using a height-adjustable, downward titling keyboard tray for the best work posture, then every 20 minutes stand for 2 minutes AND MOVE. The absolute time isn’t critical but about every 20-30 minutes take a posture break and move for a couple of minutes. Simply standing is insufficient.

(Via Dan Moren.)

Samsung Executive Gave Proprietary Apple Component Info to Financial Analyst 

Patricia Hurtado, reporting for Bloomberg:

An ex-Samsung Electronics Co. manager, testifying at the insider-trader trial of Primary Global Research LLC executive James Fleishman, told jurors he disclosed confidential shipping data for Apple Inc. iPad components.

Suk-Joo Hwang, who worked for 14 years at the U.S. division of Suwon, South Korea-based Samsung, told jurors yesterday in federal court in New York after he was granted immunity from prosecution by U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff, who’s presiding over the case.

Note that Hwang is an ex-Samsung manager today. When he leaked this information, though, he was working there. If you’ve ever wondered how well it works with, on the one side, Samsung as a major component supplier for Apple, and on the other side, Samsung as a major Apple competitor and lawsuit target in the consumer electronics market — the answer seems to be “not too well”.

RIM Reports Shitty Results 

Anyone with their eyes open has known for at least a year that RIM was heading for trouble like this. It was inevitable.

Let’s look at the bright side though. (Seriously, no use kicking these guys while they’re down.) One, they’re still profitable. Profits are way down, yes, but the company is still in the black. Two, even with their crummy outdated technology, they still sold 10 million phones. That’s an installed base they can start with when their next-gen phones ship.

Andy Ihnatko on Windows 8 

The good:

Metro-based apps can articulate themselves one more way: simply as features that they “lend” to other apps. One of Apple’s publicly-demoed features of the upcoming update to iOS is the ability to share things via Twitter. It exists because Apple hardwired Twitter right into the OS. In Windows 8, that same feature is available to you because you happen to have installed a standalone Twitter client on this machine. The Twitter app’s developer added a few lines of code that allows Windows to offer those core Twitter features system-wide, wherever it’s appropriate, without exiting the original program.

(Agreed; “contracts” look like the best feature of Metro, and iOS is sorely lacking anything similar.)

The bad:

The bad news is that Microsoft has lacked the guts to cut the cord entirely. Every time the classic Windows 7 interface pops up, it looks like a drunken uncle at an otherwise elegant family wedding.

Jason Snell on Windows 8 

Jason Snell:

Would Apple consider truly merging OS X and iOS into a single operating system, like Windows 8? Right now, I can’t see it.

Me neither. Trackpad gestures (Lion) are not touch.

Shocker: Arrington-Backed Startup Wins AOL/TechCrunch Contest 

Second- and third-place companies too.

The Landscape Tablet Landscape 

One of the biggest differences between Apple’s and Microsoft’s tablet strategies.

No Flash Player in Metro IE 

No plugins, period. Microsoft IE lead Dean Hachamovitch:

Running Metro style IE plug-in free improves battery life as well as security, reliability, and privacy for consumers. Plug-ins were important early on in the web’s history. But the web has come a long way since then with HTML5. Providing compatibility with legacy plug-in technologies would detract from, rather than improve, the consumer experience of browsing in the Metro style UI.

There is no room in the future for Flash.

The Talk Show, Episode 59 

This week’s show:

Windows 8, Metro, touch on the desktop, keeping legacy environments around, Windows everywhere vs. iOS everywhere, and the death of Star Wars.

Brought to you by CampaignMonitor and Shopify.

Here Is Windows 8 Running on an ARM Tablet 

For realsies this time.

Contrary to my just-posted theory that Windows 8 might (and I say, should) go Metro-only on ARM tablets, this unit does have the traditional Windows desktop. The OS is still just a developer beta, though.

Windows 8 Developer Preview on AMD Tablets 

This Is My Next has pictures and a video showing the Windows 8 developer preview running on ARM tablets — but they’re tablets originally designed to run Windows 7.

Correction: These aren’t ARM. I saw “AMD” and read “ARM” — my bad. Total brain-o on my end, since the whole Windows-on-ARM thing is new to Windows 8. There are no existing Windows ARM tablets.

George Lucas Strikes Back 

This explains it all.

Not About Steve 

Guy English:

There’s been a lot written about Steve leaving Apple. I’m more concerned about Steve leaving the industry.

The Çingleton Symposium 

Small, smart, two-day conference next month in beautiful Montréal, Québec, more or less focusing on where this whole racket is going. I’d say it’s a great lineup of speakers, but that’d be self-serving, so I won’t. This is the only speaking engagement on my calendar, but alas, it’s already sold out.

Windows 8 Rotation Support 

Microsoft didn’t show much of Window-8-for-tablets running in portrait orientation in yesterday’s keynote, and, in fact, later emphasized that landscape is Windows 8’s primary orientation. But it definitely supports on-the-fly rotation.

I was curious what the animation would look like, and WinRumors has a good video showing it in action. Unlike iOS, on-screen elements don’t move; instead it’s a fade-out/fade-in thing.

Eight Traits of Great Metro Style Apps 

90-minute session by Microsoft’s Jensen Harris at Build yesterday. This is a terrific overview of the Windows 8 Metro interface. If you want to know what Metro is all about, and how much thought Microsoft has put into it, this is the session to watch.

There Are Always Problems 

Mark Bernstein on the “Lion is too buggy” meme:

I blame a corrupt trade press. The way you get attention and make money — not much money — in this game is to start flame wars, and so “Apple ships lousy operating system! Scroll bars backwards! Apple doomed!” gets links and traffic and sells ads for off-brand iPad cases. And of course some of the financial press try to launch memes to manipulate stock prices — either because they play the market or simply to show what big lever-pullers they are.

One word: Antennagate.

Phone Story — Anti-iPhone Game Banned From App Store 

Given that one of the levels involves catching suicide-jumping Foxconn factory workers, it’s more surprising that the game got into the App Store in the first place than that it was removed.

I much prefer Hipmunk overall, but there’s much to like about Google Flights. For one thing, Google lists flights from Southwest. They don’t have prices, but I’ve never seen a third-party flight search tool that even lists flights from Southwest.

Jeff Williams, Apple’s Senior VP of Operations 

Brief profile by JP Mangalindan at Fortune of Jeff Williams, Apple’s top operations executive under Tim Cook.

Vladimir Putin, Action Man 

“Look it says right here on the box: you can go swimming, you can go horseback riding...”

ifttt — If This Then That 

New(-ish) automation service, acts like glue between a wide variety of online services. Think: Automator for the web. Ambitious and clever, and they take a novel approach to making the interface obvious and easy. Check out the list of most-popular recipes to get an idea of the things you can do with it.

Future Android Versions to Be Optimized for Intel as Well as ARM 

So maybe Windows 8 won’t be the only OS running tablets that need fans.

This Commercial Reminds Me of the Upcoming Intel-Based Windows 8 Tablets 

If you’re going to put a fan in your tablet, why not go the extra step? (Via Frederik Danvig.)

Update: Via numerous DF readers, here’s an even better spot by Renault’s corporate sibling Nissan with the same concept.

‘However, Fan Noise Is Very Noticeable, as Is the Heat Coming Out of the Top Vent’ 

Hands-on report with a prototype iPad 3, or a Windows 8 Samsung tablet — you make the call.

The New Boston Globe Website 

Fascinating new website for The Boston Globe — resize your browser window and you’ll see what I mean. There is no need for an “iPhone” or “mobile” version — the layout simply reflows naturally on small screens. The design is uncluttered and reader-friendly. How many newspaper website designs can you say that about?

The business model is radical as well. It’s free for September, but after that, you’ll have to pay:

For the rest of September, will be free, but after that readers will have to pay $3.99 a week for a digital-only subscription. Home delivery subscribers will not have to pay extra for the site but will need to register online to gain access.

The newspaper’s existing site,, will remain free and will offer breaking news, blogs, photo galleries, sports coverage, and a limited selection of stories from the paper.

Machinarium, iPad Game Built With Adobe Air 

Speaking of Flash and tablets, Adobe evangelist Lee Brimelow is proud that the current top-selling paid app for the iPad is Machinarium, a game developed using Adobe Air’s iOS cross-compiler. It’s easy to see why it’s popular — the game looks beautiful.

But at a technical level, is this really something Adobe should be crowing about? The game requires an iPad 2 for performance reasons, even though the animation is 2D, not 3D. The game was originally written in Air for play on the PC, so I have little doubt it was less work to port it to the iPad within Air rather than rewriting it natively in Cocoa Touch. But it doesn’t seem right to me that this game doesn’t run on first-gen iPads. Commenters on Brimelow’s post seem to agree.

Update: The game’s description on the App Store includes this: “NOTE: If the game crashes, RESET your iPad, the problem does not have to be on our side!” Such instructions are not unique to games built using Adobe Air, but still, it doesn’t speak well regarding the game’s resource consumption.

Delayed by Flash 

Speaking of the CrunchPad, Fusion Garage, the company formerly known as “JooJoo” that hoodwinked Arrington out of the project, has pushed back the release of their Grid 10 tablet:

The company also added that the Grid 10 will experience a slight shipping delay, being pushed back to October 1st due to a “new criteria in [the] Adobe Flash Player (FP) 10.3 approval process.”

Remember when people used to argue that Apple should add Flash Player to iOS?

AOL Shitcans Arrington 


Michael Arrington, the founder of TechCrunch has decided to move on from TechCrunch and AOL to his newly formed venture fund.

I wonder who gets to keep the rights to the CrunchPad.

WordPress and High Traffic 

Ben Brooks defends WordPress:

I have been linked to from Gruber and other high traffic sites before and never once has this site crumbled under the pressure — even when I was on the cheaper Grid-Service from Media Temple. The fact is that if you properly cache and administer your site, well, you can handle a ton of traffic.

True, but no one is arguing otherwise. The problem is that I think that’s a big “if”.

It’s worth noting up front that hosted sites perform admirably under high traffic. The problem is with self-hosted WordPress installations that are not cached — which is the default. People choose WordPress for their self-hosted weblog software because it’s easy to install, and easy to configure with “just put it into a folder” installation of additional themes and plugins. But such an installation can’t handle large amounts of traffic. If I link to an uncached WordPress site, it will go down.

I’ve never used WordPress, so obviously I’m no expert on administering it, but if a smart guy like Dr. Drang has enough trouble getting it to run smoothly with caching that he goes back to running it uncached, I’m going to go out on a limb and say it’s not easy.

‘Seriously, What Is the Matter With You?’ 

The Macalope’s been on a great roll lately.

The BundleHunt Creativity Mac App Bundle 

My thanks to the new BundleHunt Creativity Mac App Bundle for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed. The deal is simple: you pay $49.99 and you get over $450 worth of Mac apps and design resources.

Included apps: LaunchBar, ColorSchemer Studio2, WriteRoom, Divvy, Seamless Studio, Xslimmer and Tumult Hype. You also get the four latest e-books from SmashingMagazine, three WordPress themes of your choice from ThemeTrust, the Geomicon icon set, and a license for the TN3 Gallery Pro imagine gallery and slideshow.

All that for just one-ninth of the regular combined retail price. Act now: the offer ends September 22.

Bloomberg: Sprint Said to Plan Unlimited Data With iPhone 5 

Olga Kharif, reporting for Bloomberg:

Sprint Nextel Corp. will offer Apple Inc.’s iPhone next month with unlimited data service plans to distinguish itself from rivals AT&T Inc. and Verizon Wireless, according to people familiar with the matter.

Might be a tough decision for AT&T refugees planning to switch.

Flash Media Server 4.5 

Worst headline of the day has to be this one at BGR: “Adobe Finally Brings Flash to iPhone and iPad”. That’s completely backwards. What Adobe announced:

With Adobe Flash Media Server 4.5, media publishers now have a single, simple workflow for delivering content using the same stream to Flash-enabled devices or to the Apple iPhone and iPad,” Adobe said in a statement. Flash Media Server 4.5 allows publishers to stream Flash content to iOS devices, which means support within the iOS Safari browser is not required. Instead of relying on a device’s processor to render the stream, which often degrades battery life and slows a device down, Adobe’s Flash Media Server 4.5 does all the legwork.

Translation: FMS 4.5 will send HTML5 video to iOS devices, and send Flash Player-wrapped video to other devices. This is Adobe blinking, acknowledging that iOS will never support Flash Player, and is too big a market for video publishers to ignore.

This is the wrong approach for video publishers to take, though. They should be sending HTML5/H.264 video to any user agent that supports it, and only falling back to Flash Player for user agents that don’t support HTML5 and H.264. Flash Player should be the fallback exception, not the other way around. E.g., a factory-fresh Mac running Safari could be supported the same way iOS devices are, but instead, FMS will insist on using Flash Player, and instead of being shown video, the user will be told to go install Flash Player.

‘Other Designs Are Possible’ 

Tom Reestman on Apple’s win over Samsung in German court:

It gets old seeing companies copy Apple so fully, and then claim they had no choice because there’s no other way to make whatever it is they’re making.

jQuery More Popular Than Flash 


AppendTo, the company dedicated to jQuery, the world’s most popular JavaScript Library, released data today showing that the percentage of websites that have jQuery deployed has officially surpassed the percentage of websites that have Adobe Flash deployed. Statistics compiled by HTTP Archive (, which analyze the world’s top 17,000 websites, show that 48 percent of the sites use jQuery, while 47 percent use Flash.

Kind of an apples-to-oranges comparison, but it’s an interesting snapshot. One technology waxing, one waning.


Kick-ass new single from Pearl Jam, free from their website. Here they are killing it on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon last night.

Heck of a Job, RIM 

BlackBerry App World:

This web page uses ActiveX controls that work only in Microsoft Internet Explorer. To ensure that BlackBerry App World is correctly downloaded to your BlackBerry, this site is not designed to work with any other Internet browsers. If you cannot use Internet Explorer, you may be able to download the software directly to your BlackBerry smartphone.

Air Force Pilot Heather Penney, 9/11 Hero 

Steve Hendrix, reporting for the Washington Post:

Late in the morning of the Tuesday that changed everything, Lt. Heather “Lucky” Penney was on a runway at Andrews Air Force Base and ready to fly. She had her hand on the throttle of an F-16 and she had her orders: Bring down United Airlines Flight 93. The day’s fourth hijacked airliner seemed to be hurtling toward Washington. Penney, one of the first two combat pilots in the air that morning, was told to stop it.

The one thing she didn’t have as she roared into the crystalline sky was live ammunition. Or missiles. Or anything at all to throw at a hostile aircraft.

Except her own plane. So that was the plan.

Social Security: A Monstrous Truth 

The Economist on Texas governor Rick Perry’s crackpot claim that Social Security “is a Ponzi scheme”:

No Ponzi scheme in the history of the world has ever lasted 75 years.

Display Orientation Empowerment 

Interesting piece from Ben Brooks, discussing how with laptops, our displays are dogmatically (a) widescreen and (b) landscape. The iPad brought back the 4:3 aspect ratio, but more interestingly, it put orientation in the user’s hands. You choose. Put another way, in most senses, the iPad is far less configurable or customizable than a Mac; but regarding display orientation, it’s the other way around.

(Back in the early 1990s, I coveted but could not afford a Radius Pivot display for the Mac — you could rotate between portrait and landscape on-the-fly.)

Bloomberg: AOL Said to Discuss Deal With Yahoo 


AOL Inc. Chief Executive Officer Tim Armstrong is talking with advisers to Yahoo! Inc. to gauge its interest in combining the companies after the ouster of CEO Carol Bartz, according to two people familiar with the matter.

That’d solve all the problems at both companies. Sort of like how piling all the dirty plates in the sink solves your dishwashing problems.

Photo of Mike Arrington Being Escorted Out of AOL’s Offices by Security Guards 

The sash is a bit much. (Via Mike Monteiro, whose Twitter account page background is a painting of a topless Bea Arthur.)

JD Power 2011 Mobile Phone Satisfaction Study 

Zero surprises.

Google Gets Its Hands Dirty 

Philip Elmer-DeWitt:

The difference is that Apple actually invented the technology it accused HTC — and by proxy, Google — of “stealing” (to use Steve Jobs’ verb). One of the patents Apple cited in its 2010 suit —  Patent No. 7479949 — is a 358-page document signed by Jobs himself that covers everything from the way a finger touches the screen of a smartphone to the heuristics that turn those touches into commands.

HTC and Google, by contrast, are accusing Apple (whose smartphone designs they have plainly copied) of violating patents they bought fourth or fifth hand.

But Google’s slogan is “Don’t be evil”, thus, this must be OK. Duh.

Microsoft Signs Android Patent Agreements With Acer, ViewSonic 

Janet I. Tu:

In news releases issued today, Microsoft announced agreements with Acer and ViewSonic.

The agreement with Acer covers Microsoft’s patent portfolio for Acer’s tablets and smartphones running the Android platform. The agreement with ViewSonic covers Microsoft’s patent portfolio for ViewSonic’s tablets and mobile phones running the Android or Chrome platforms.

Which major Android handset makers haven’t yet made such an agreement with Microsoft? Samsung and Motorola, I think. And they’ve already started their court case against Motorola.

Carol Bartz, a Year Ago, on Apple’s iAd: ‘That’s Going to Fall Apart for Them’ 

I said we should check back in a year, and here we are. Bartz may well be proven right eventually — it doesn’t seem like iAd is doing great — but as of today iAd is still here and Bartz is out.

International Business Times: ‘10 Reasons Why iPhone 5 Doesn’t Stand a Chance Against Motorola Droid Bionic’ 

Ignore the hyperbolic headline. Forget about just how jackasstic it is to compare a just-released Android phone against an iPhone that is nothing more than a rumor. The whole thing is click-bait, sure. But what I think is interesting is that if you just took this list of 10 items, you could use those same items to write a real article headlined, “Things Tech Nerds Believe Make the iPhone Inferior But Which in Reality Don’t Matter in the Mass Market”. Flash Player, Google-style “openness”, RAM, expansion card slots. Come on.

‘These People Fucked Me Over’ 

Say what you want about Carol Bartz’s performance as Yahoo CEO, but I love her straight-talking attitude:

“The board was so spooked by being cast as the worst board in the country,” Bartz says. “Now they’re trying to show that they’re not the doofuses that they are.”

Google Acquires Zagat 

“Just what every restaurant wants”, to be more “dependent upon Google”.

HTC: We Paid for Patents We Got From Google 

Ina Fried, reporting for some website:

HTC told AllThingsD on Wednesday that it did pay for the patents that it recently acquired from Google and is using in its latest patent actions against Apple. However, in answer to the million dollar (or $1, or $10,000) question, HTC won’t say how much it paid for the patents.

So Google is basically the Intellectual Ventures in this scenario. Cool.

Michael S. Hart, Founder of Project Gutenberg, Dies at Age 64 

From his obituary at Project Gutenberg:

Hart was best known for his 1971 invention of electronic books, or eBooks. He founded Project Gutenberg, which is recognized as one of the earliest and longest-lasting online literary projects. He often told this story of how he had the idea for eBooks. He had been granted access to significant computing power at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. On July 4 1971, after being inspired by a free printed copy of the U.S. Declaration of Independence, he decided to type the text into a computer, and to transmit it to other users on the computer network. From this beginning, the digitization and distribution of literature was to be Hart’s life’s work, spanning over 40 years.

A true pioneer, who made the world a better place.

Why Didn’t Google Sue Apple Directly? 

Nilay Patel has questions for Google re: the patents it bought and gave to HTC which HTC then used to countersue Apple:

  • Did Google acquire these patents knowing they would be alleged against Apple, by Google or a third party?

  • Has Google started acquiring patents for express purpose of offensive litigation, which it’s promised it would never do?

Like I said, fair’s fair once you start shooting in a patent war, and Apple started the shooting in this one. But can Google spare us the crocodile tears going forward? They complained only when they had no relevant patents, and soon as they got some, they gave them to HTC to sue with them.

‘Shape of the Earth – Both Sides Have a Point’ 

This 11-year-old Paul Krugman quip is what Kevin Drum was alluding to today with his “Views Differ on Shape of Earth, Climate Edition” headline:

If a presidential candidate were to declare that the earth is flat, you would be sure to see a news analysis under the headline “Shape of the Planet: Both Sides Have a Point.” After all, the earth isn’t perfectly spherical.

The argument is that the mainstream news media attempts at all costs to appear “balanced”, by giving both sides of any dispute equal footing — as opposed to simply trying to report what is actually accurate. Thus, in the debate over climate change, they give undue emphasis to arguments claiming that climate change lacks scientific consensus, when in fact the opposite is true.

Climate change may or may not be occurring. But there is no dispute that 98 percent of climate scientists believe that it is happening and is man-made. And Americans are grossly misinformed regarding this.

Update: Allow me to echo Kevin Drum’s footnote:

I wasn’t going to bother with this, but a reader emails to point out that, actually, 100% of climate scientists believe global warming is happening. Something like 98% of them believe that it’s mostly caused by humans. But I’m giving our survey respondents a break, since I suspect most people automatically think “human-caused global warming” whenever they hear “global warming.”

My “may or may not be occurring” line was sloppy writing, and wasn’t an indication that I personally am in doubt. What I was trying to say is that the debate over man-made climate change is one thing; the question as to how many climate scientists believe in man-made climate change is another. And there’s been a concentrated (and, obviously, effective) effort from those seeking to protect the status quo, carbon emissions-wise, to make common people believe that the science is in dispute. It’s not surprising that so many people don’t believe in or are unsure about man-made climate change, if they vastly underestimate the percentage of climate change experts who believe in it.

Favorite Mailboxes in Lion Mail 

Matt Gemmell:

There are several new features in Mail that I’m enjoying, and one of the least promoted is the new Favorites Bar. I think it’s very useful, particularly if you like to use keyboard shortcuts as much as possible, and so I’ve written this brief article describing how it works.

Mail, overall, is my favorite new thing in Lion.

HTC Sues Apple Using Patents Obtained From Google Last Week 

What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.

Detective Latchkey 

This week’s episode of The Talk Show, with me and Dan Benjamin talking about HP/Palm, Yahoo/Bartz, the purportedly lost iPhone 5 prototype, and the last of the Pierce Brosnan Bond films, Die Another Day.

Brought to you by easyDNS and MailChimp.

‘Do Not Develop in the Open’ 

Information from the Oracle v. Google lawsuit includes these bullet points from an internal Google presentation:

  • Do not develop in the open. Instead, make source code available after innovation is complete

  • Lead device concept: Give early access to the software to partners who build and distribute devices to our specification (ie [sic], Motorola and Verizon). They get a non-contractual time to market advantage and in return they align to our standard.

Views Differ on Shape of Earth, Climate Edition 

Americans — of all political stripes — are grossly misinformed about the percentage of climate scientists who think global warming is happening. Sad.

Daring Fireball RSS Feed Sponsorships 

September is sold out, and October and November are starting to fill up. If you have a product or service that you’d like to promote to Daring Fireball’s audience of smart, good-looking readers, please do get in touch.

Kara Swisher Reports That Carol Bartz Is Out at Yahoo 

Name one great thing Yahoo has done in the last five years.

Update: Confirmation from Bartz herself, including that she was fired over the phone.

‘The Familiar Lag’ 

Vlad Savov, grading the Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7 on a curve:

Even the very latest version of Android (Honeycomb, v3.2) isn’t quite up to the standard of iOS in terms of responsiveness and utility-enhancing applications, and I did manage to spot the familiar lag when dragging onscreen items around the Android interface. That’s a software shortcoming that will get better with time, mind you, and having the almost-standard 1280 x 800 Android tablet resolution should stand this Galaxy Tab in great stead to receive the Ice Cream Sandwich upgrade. Samsung says it’ll do its utmost to provide users with the best possible software, but wouldn’t commit on whether or not the 7.7 will get ICS.

So the responsiveness is poor compared to iOS, but it “will get better with time” because of an OS update the device might get. Stop me if you’ve heard this one before.

Google’s Customers 

Why do people complain that Google doesn’t offer customer support via the phone? Of course they do. For their actual customers: advertisers.

From the DF Claim Chowder Archive: Tomi Ahonen on iPhone Sales 

Former Nokia executive Tomi Ahonen, predicting market share drop-off for the iPhone back in April 2010:

The Apple iPhone sales pattern differs from all other major smartphone makers because Apple only releases one new model per year. So the sales take off strongly and then decline as the rivals keep releasing newer phones.

The first of those two sentences is a fact. The second is not — it’s conventional wisdom. Conflating conventional wisdom with fact is a problem for many of Apple’s competitors. Remember, for example, how often it was treated as a fact that the iPhone’s lack of a user-removable battery was a “con”?

Analyst: iPhone 4 Remains Top-Selling US Smartphone Despite Growing iPhone 5 Hype 

Neil Hughes at AppleInsider:

Analyst T. Michael Walkley with Canaccord Genuity revealed in a note to investors on Tuesday that checks with U.S. carriers indicate that sales of the iPhone 4 remain on top ahead of the iPhone 5 debut, despite the fact that the iPhone 4 is more than a year old.

“Our checks indicated strong sales of the iPhone 4, as it remained the top selling smartphone at AT&T and Verizon despite increasing consumer expectations for the iPhone 5 launch,” he wrote.

The first few years of the iPhone, sales would drop precipitously in the April/May/June quarter preceding the release of a widely expected new model. That doesn’t happen any more, because the iPhone is no longer a tech-nerd product. I’m sure sales of iPhones to tech nerds have dropped recently, but the iPhone is now a mass-market product.

Also worth remembering: the iPhone 4 has been on the market as the top-of-the-line iPhone far longer than any previous iPhone.

Oh, and the second-best-selling handset at AT&T for the last three months, according to the same analyst? The iPhone 3GS.

Sprint and the iPhone 

Nilay Patel flagged this passage in Sprint’s lawsuit against AT&T’s proposed acquisition of T-Mobile:

The iPhone and the Storm are classic examples of the existing scale advantage of the two largest national wireless carriers. Apple launched the iPhone with AT&T under an exclusive arrangement in 2007. In early 2011, Apple then gave Verizon a time-to-market advantage for the iPhone, most likely because Verizon had the largest subscriber base in the United States. Sprint has had to compete without access to the iPhone for nearly five years. The Twin Bells have had a tremendous time-to-market advantage with the iPhone, and have been able to lock many customers into two-year contracts with the iconic device.

Patel reads this as a hint that Sprint might be getting the iPhone 5. I don’t see that. (I think it makes sense that Apple would continue to expand the list of iPhone carriers, both in the U.S. and around the world, so Sprint may well be getting the iPhone 5. I’m just saying I don’t see what Sprint wrote in the above-quoted lawsuit as being any different whether they were getting the iPhone soon or not.)

What I find interesting is the tacit admission from Sprint that it is at a competitive disadvantage without the iPhone. Seems obvious to me, of course, and probably to most regular DF readers. But how do the Android supporters who insist that Android is “winning” square that belief with this?

Apple’s Storefront Symmetry 

Even the sidewalk is part of the design.

Fireballed: Cached here.

Shorter Mike Arrington: ‘I Sold My Company (to a Bunch of Idiots) and Expected to Still Maintain Control Over It.’ 

Mike Arrington at AOL/TechCrunch seems to have a little seller’s remorse:

We’ve proposed two options to Aol.

1. Reaffirmation of the editorial independence promised at the time of acquisition. Given the current circumstances, that means autonomy from Huffington Post, unfettered editorial independence and a blanket right to editorial self determination. To put it simply, TechCrunch would stay with Aol but would be independent of the Huffington Post.


2. Sell TechCrunch back to the original shareholders.

If Aol cannot accept either of these options, and no other creative solution can be found, I cannot be a part of TechCrunch going forward.

Anyone else running low on popcorn watching this saga unfold?

HP Kills More Business Units, Relocates to Sunnyvale Strip Mall 

Ken Segall at Scoopertino:

HP Enterprise Business: gone. HP Software: gone. Only HP Imaging and Printing will survive — though you’ll have to go hunting to find it.

HP will sell all the group’s assets except six DeskJet printers, and relocate the business to a Sunnyvale strip mall under the name HP Invent … and Print! Apotheker sees HP becoming a major player in Sunnyvale’s red-hot document duplication market.

HP Splitting WebOS Hardware and Software 

Derek Kessler, reporting for PreCentral:

We’ve received two memos sent to employees of HP’s webOS Global Business Unit that tell the story of how HP is splitting the former Palm, Inc. into two separate units that will report to separate divisions of HP. The hardware division will stay under the Personal Systems Group and continue to report to Stephen DeWitt. The software side — the side that HP’s still interested in — is to be split off and moved over to HP’s Office of Strategy and Technology, where they’ll report to EVP Shane Robinson.

What strikes me about this are the stupid names of these internal divisions. “Personal Systems Group”, “Office of Strategy and Technology”. What a bunch of crap. Arbitrary bureaucratic internal divisions like this are the antithesis of what I mean when I say that Apple, as an institution, is itself Apple-like. In the way that Apple products aren’t junked-up with extra buttons, logos, stickers, legacy ports, or needless ornamentation, Apple as an organization isn’t saddled with a confusing internal bureaucracy that doesn’t map directly onto the company’s products and services.

The Supply-Side Virus 

Paul Krugman, writing for Slate all the way back in 1996, on the durability of supply-side economics in the face of evidence that it doesn’t work. 15 years later, this stands up remarkably well.

The Limping Middle Class 

Robert Reich:

Look back over the last hundred years and you’ll see the pattern. During periods when the very rich took home a much smaller proportion of total income — as in the Great Prosperity between 1947 and 1977 — the nation as a whole grew faster and median wages surged. We created a virtuous cycle in which an ever growing middle class had the ability to consume more goods and services, which created more and better jobs, thereby stoking demand. The rising tide did in fact lift all boats.

I.e., the evidence overwhelmingly shows that “trickle-down economics” has it exactly backwards. The infographic that accompanies Reich’s article is just terrific.

Objective-C Hits #6 in the TIOBE Programming Community Index 

Look at the slope of this graph.

Toshiba Unveils New Thin Laptop 

PCs are too expensive.

Don Norman: Google Doesn’t Get People, It Sells Them 

The truth has an anti-Google bias.

Steve Jobs and the Eureka Myth 

Adrian Slywotzky at Harvard Business Review:

Apple would love us to believe it’s all “Eureka.” But Apple produces 10 pixel-perfect prototypes for each feature. They compete — and are winnowed down to three, then one, resulting in a highly evolved winner. Because Apple knows the more you compete inside, the less you’ll have to compete outside.

This is what I think when I see Samsung shipping five or six different sized tablets. It’s not that Apple didn’t try a bunch of different form factors — it’s that they tried them internally, figured out which one was best, and only shipped that one.

Galaxy Tabs Sold vs. Shipped 

The Guardian:

An executive at Android tablet maker Lenovo claims that Samsung sold only 20,000 of the 1m tablets that it shipped last year as it tried to “buy share” from market leader Apple.

Guess we know what “quite smooth” means now.


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Get Pickpawcket on the App Store for just $0.99.

Best Buy Trims $150 Off RIM PlayBook 

Always a good sign.

MG Siegler’s Hands-On Report on the Imminent Amazon Kindle Tablet 

7-inch color touchscreen, no e-ink, running a customized Amazon-branded fork of Android. This will be the first successful iPad rival. Amazon has the whole ecosystem in place: the existing Kindle brand, happy Kindle users, books, magazines, newspapers, movies. That’s what all the other Android tablets lack.

I see this more as a way for Amazon to continue and expand the Kindle’s existing success, not something that’s going to slow the iPad down.

HP Limited Edition Calculator 

Here’s a $99 tablet from HP we can all love. So cool.

San Francisco Man Says Visitors Impersonating Police Searched His Home Looking for Lost iPhone 5 Prototype 

Nice reporting by Peter Jamison at SF Weekly:

If accurate, his account raises the possibility that Apple security personnel attempting to recover the prototype falsely represented themselves as police officers — a criminal act punishable by up to a year in jail in the state of California — or that SFPD employees colluding with Apple failed to properly report an extensive search of a person’s home, car, and computer.

Cook’s first crisis at the helm?

Update: SF police now confirm they were involved.

MG Siegler on the iPad as a PC Replacement 

MG Siegler:

The press has to write about and review the iPad because that’s what they do. But they’re also the worst possible candidates for iPad usage.

I’ve slowly come to realize this over time. When I went on vacation a few months ago, I brought both my laptop and my iPad. I promised myself I wouldn’t do any work during the trip — as a result, the laptop never came out. Not once. The iPad? I used it every single day, for hours.

Great piece.

The Banana Window 

With Dan out on paternity leave, Merlin Mann did this week’s The Talk Show with me. We talk about stuff like Vegas, Disney World, and of course, grocery shopping.

Brought to you by the fine folks at Field Notes,, and Thoughtbot.

Starz Says It Won’t Renew Giant Netflix Deal 

Peter Kafka:

Satellite TV channel Starz says it won’t renew its distribution deal with Netflix when it expires next February.

If the company follows through on that statement, it will mean Netflix won’t be able provide digital access to movies from Sony and Disney — a scenario Reed Hastings and company have been trying to avoid for years.

February is a ways off, but this would severely hurt Netflix’s streaming library if they can’t work out another deal with those studios. This is the problem with being a middleman.

Apple CEO Tim Cook Promotes iTunes/iCloud Chief Eddy Cue to Senior VP of Internet Software and Services 

Nice scoop from 9to5 Mac. Includes Tim Cook’s company-wide announcement.

Lenovo U300s Ultraportable Laptop 

Reminds me of something, can’t quite put my finger on it.