Something’s Rotten, That’s for Sure ★
Michael Wolff, writing at The Guardian, “Apple’s rot starts with its Samsung lawsuit win”:
This fierce defensiveness might be rightly understood in a psychological sense: Apple itself is based on stolen iconography. There was first the Beatle’s [sic] Apple and there was Xerox PARC’s desktop design. Apple’s self-righteousness masks its guilt.
Indeed, there have been several legal skirmishes between Apple Inc. (née Apple Computer Inc.) and The Beatles’ Apple Corps, but they negotiated agreements. As for the tired “Apple stole the ideas for the Mac GUI from Xerox” chestnut — seriously? Does Michael Wolff know how to use Google?
(It may be sheepish, too, about being more of a marketing organization than a technology company.)
Another greatest hit from Apple troll bag: Apple is a technology poser that merely dresses up in pretty “marketing” the engineering innovations of other “real” technology companies.
For some, Apple is always doomed. In the old days, because they were too small, dwarfed by Microsoft. Then, a decade ago, it was because the iPod boom would surely prove fleeting and soon go bust. Now, it’s because they’re too big, doomed by their success and the company’s institutional hubris.
An iPad Review, Sort Of ★
I left my iPad on a plane the other day. The crazy thing about it — as if there needs to be an extra layer of crazy about leaving a hugely expensive and personal and professionally vital device on an airplane — was that I thought about it five minutes before I did it. Not after. BEFORE.
Apple Retail Rumors ★
Chris Foresman takes this report from Gary Allen at ifoAppleStore and runs with it. (Google cache of the ifoAppleStore report.) I don’t see how that’s warranted, given the lack of evidence and thin sourcing in Allen’s original report. This story is predicated on the assumption that Tim Cook doesn’t understand what has made Apple’s retail stores so successful and popular. They’re going to start cutting back on maintenance and cleanliness? Do you think Tim Cook is a fool? I don’t buy it.
The Red Sox as the U.S.S.R. ★
Nicholas Thompson, writing for The New Yorker’s Sporting Scene:
One of the greatest rivalries in professional sports history was surely that between the Red Sox and Yankees from 2003 to 2011. They were the best teams in baseball many of those years. They participated in two of the greatest playoff series of all time. They brawled. They fought over free agents. The Yankees were generally slightly better, but the Red Sox still triumphed in two World Series. They were like the United States and the Soviet Union in the Cold War. But, now, as then, we have a winner.
What’s on Mayor Nutter’s Zune? ★
MG Siegler, quoting Marissa Mayer circa 2005:
“There will not be crazy, flashy, graphical doodads flying and
popping up all over the Google site. Ever.”
It’s easy to call hypocrisy on this one, or to argue that Mayer’s absence is already being felt. But I’m not so sure. This thing is certainly more prominent than any previous promotion Google has put on its home page, but, the Nexus 7 is also the best device the company has produced to date. It deserves a more prominent promotion than, say, any of the Nexus phones to date. I’m going to hold my claim chowder card on this one until they sell this sort of promotion, as opposed to using it for their own product.
Perceptions Matter ★
Quentin Fottrell, reporting for MarketWatch:
Gazelle.com reports a 50% increase in Samsung smartphones over the
past three days, which has led to a 10% drop in prices for those
devices. “Consumers seem to be jumping ship,” says Anthony
Scarsella, chief gadget officer at Gazelle.com. “We expect this
trend to continue, especially with this latest verdict.”
$1 billion isn’t that much money, either to Apple or Samsung. But the PR value of this verdict is far higher. (Via Jim Dalrymple.)
I’m renaming Tweet Marker Plus. Its new name — to better reflect
its gradual move away from Twitter and syncing — is Watermark.
As part of the relaunch it immediately gains a new feature:
Mike Wehner, Yahoo News:
The iPhone 5 will also undoubtedly feature near-field
communication (NFC) technology, allowing the phone to be used as a
virtual wallet at retail stores.
Listening to Users ★
You only learn where a product needs improvement through serious
long-term use. Users gain that kind of experience, but reviewers
and pundits generally do not. Their observations tend to be
superficial. That’s why reviews written after a few days using a
product often miss the mark. The real greatness or lack of
greatness in a product doesn’t show up for a few weeks or months.
Sometimes even longer.
This was a secret of mine, because most of my competitors not only
didn’t listen to their users, but they didn’t even use their own
I’m lucky enough to be acquaintances — and in many cases friends — with the developers of many of my most-used apps. And in every single case, they are heavy and devoted users of their own apps.
Why There’s a Weird Bulge on Google.com ★
Nexus 7 scores the most valuable advertising space on the entire web.
Stealing Sheep ★
Nice appreciation of type design titan Frederic Goudy by Jason Santa Maria.
AnandTech: NFC Unlikely in New iPhone ★
Brian Klug and Anand Lal Shimpi for AnandTech:
Given the primarily metal backside of the new iPhone, it’s highly unlikely that NFC is in the cards for this generation. In fact, given the very little space at top and bottom dedicated to those glass RF windows, you can almost entirely rule it out.
Dalrymple says yep.
I remember hearing about NFC support six months ahead of the iPhone 4. So much potential, but it just never went anywhere.
New Senior Vice President Lineup at Apple ★
Apple today announced that Craig Federighi, Apple’s vice
president of Mac Software Engineering, and Dan Riccio, Apple’s
vice president of Hardware Engineering, have been promoted to
senior vice presidents. Federighi and Riccio will report to Apple
CEO Tim Cook and serve on Apple’s executive management team.
Makes sense, especially in Federighi’s case, after Mountain Lion shipped on time and to great reviews.
Apple also announced that Bob Mansfield, who announced his
retirement in June, will remain at Apple. Mansfield will work on
future products, reporting to Tim Cook.
That’s interesting, given that it’s utterly unexplained and that, with Riccio’s promotion, Apple now has two senior vice presidents of hardware engineering.
(Also worth noting: Apple now has their executives (after Tim Cook) listed in alphabetical order.)
Samsung Shares Drop $12 Billion After Apple’s Court Victory ★
Samsung Electronics shares slumped 7.5 percent on Monday,
wiping more than $12 billion off the South Korean giant’s
market value, as a sweeping victory for Apple Inc in a U.S.
patent lawsuit raised concerns about its smartphone business -
its biggest cash cow.
Android, still winning.
As some of you may have already noticed the download link for the
Tweetbot for Mac alpha no longer works. Twitter’s latest API
Changes means now we have a large but finite limit on the number
of user tokens we can get for Tweetbot for Mac. We’ve been
working with Twitter over the last few days to try to work around
this limit for the duration of the beta but have been unable to
come up with solution that was acceptable to them. Because of this
we’ve decided it’s best for us to pull the alpha.
What a mess. Nice job, Dick Costolo.
Stephen Coles on the New Microsoft Logo ★
It follows the visual identity that it already established in
Microsoft products and marketing for years, and it reflects the
style of typography that is at the core of their Windows Phone and
Windows 8 (formerly “Metro”) operating systems. But I think
it’s the wrong choice. Or maybe the right one, but several years
For another, more strident, argument along the same lines, see this piece by Andrew Brett Watson. Me, I don’t see Segoe (Microsoft’s identity font) as being that close to Myriad (Apple’s). But they’re quite obviously along the same lines.
Retina MacBook Pro Review as a Mac Pro Owner ★
Speaking of Marco Arment, I found myself nodding my head throughout his review of the 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display:
My only regret about the Retina Display is that I can’t buy a
standalone one for my desk, and this one’s not big enough to
just prop up the laptop on a stand and use it as the only monitor
in a desktop setup.
Passing the Costs Along ★
Unoriginal manufacturers will need to pay for their unoriginality.
The most reasonable course of action, therefore, is to truly
innovate and design products that aren’t such close copies.
Agreed. What this verdict might lessen is the low-risk, low-cost, (and as Samsung’s smartphone sales have shown, potentially high-reward) strategy of simply copying what truly innovative, risk-taking companies have shown to be successful.
Andy Ihnatko: ‘Near-Total Victory for Apple Stifles Phone, Tablet Design’ ★
Samsung will be fine. The biggest losers here are consumers. If
the verdict stands, then the costs of the judgment will be
reflected in the cost of mobile devices. Furthermore, other
manufacturers will feel the need to buy Apple’s official
permission to build useful phones, passing down the possible
I disagree. I think the licensing fees will come out of the profit margins of the handset makers. We’ll see.
And it’s possible that the next great phone, the one that shames
the iPhone the same way that the iPhone buried the Blackberry,
will never make it to market. Designing and selling an advanced
smartphone just became a dangerous business.
I disagree. I do agree that the mobile phone market is the realm of those who possess deep patent portfolios or the enormous cash reserves to license them, and that’s unfortunate. It is extremely unlikely in this landscape that the next great phone could come from a small upstart. That is unfortunate, and it’s a great argument against the U.S. patent system. But I don’t think there’s anything in this verdict that would prevent Google, Nokia, Microsoft, Samsung, HTC, Sony, or RIM from creating a new phone that is way better than the iPhone. Better necessarily implies different. What this verdict should prevent is any of them making phones that are disturbingly similar to Apple’s.
NYT: ‘After Apple-Samsung Verdict, Concern About Innovation’ ★
Nick Wingfield, writing for the NYT on the aftermath of Apple’s courtroom victory over Samsung:
Consider the case of Windows Phone, Microsoft’s operating system
for smartphones, which looks almost nothing like the Apple
software for iPhones and iPads. Reviewers have praised Windows
Phone for its fresh, distinctive design, with bold typography and
a tile system for using phone functions.
But the phones, including the Lumia 900 from Nokia, have not
How is that something to consider here? If Wingfield’s argument is that Windows Phones are not selling well simply because they’re different from the iPhone, and that the only way to succeed is to be like the iPhone, isn’t that an argument against innovation?
Is Apple’s victory over Samsung the end of its Android litigation, or the beginning? The bigger potential target: Google.
‘I Saw That Headline and My Nervous System Took a Jolt.’ ★
One year ago today, Steve Jobs resigned as Apple CEO.
‘You’re Not Gonna Name Him Fuzzbutt’ ★
Special guest star Craig Hockenberry joins yours truly on this week’s episode of The Talk Show. We discuss the escalating tensions between Twitter and its third-party developers, along with Twitter’s relationship with other networks, like Tumblr and Instagram. Other topics include App.net and developing a retina-display version of xScope for the Mac.
Brought to you by two excellent sponsors:
Tweet Keeper: a new iPhone app that lets you easily — I mean really easily — create searchable archives of tweets from any Twitter user.
Appsfire: A tool for finding not just the most popular apps in the App Store, but the best apps.
Branch Thread on HTML5 vs. Native Apps for Mobile ★
Interesting discussion. Bottom line, though, is that we should not view HTML5 and native apps as being pitted against each other. There are places for both. What we’re seeing with Facebook’s iOS app is not a sign that Facebook is turning against HTML5, but rather a shift in their priorities for a native app — that the optimal mix for their app is more native, less HTML5.
Under the Hood: Rebuilding Facebook for iOS ★
Long story short: native code is faster and feels better.
Republican Lawmaker Claims It Is ‘Virtually Impossible’ to Get AIDS Through Heterosexual Sex ★
I’m going to go out on a wild limb here and guess that this guy is also staunchly in favor of “abstinence-only” sex education.
‘Nation Celebrates Full Week Without Deadly Mass Shooting’ ★
Pre-Holiday-Quarter Product Announcement Season Is Upon Us ★
Samsung event next week. Microsoft/Nokia announcement event September 5 in New York. Google/Motorola event later that same day, across town. And a purportedly “big announcement” from Amazon in Santa Monica the next day.
Marissa Mayer, iPhone, and Android ★
Most interesting, though, was a question about being able to use
Apple products, especially its famous iPhone. Until now, Yahoo has
largely been a BlackBerry work world, which might go a long way to
explaining why it has lagged in the mobile arena.
While many Yahoos carry a second cell — usually an iPhone or a
Google Android smartphone — it is not corporate policy.
Yet! Because, according to sources, Mayer declared in a recent
exec staff meeting that iPhones (and also Android devices) for all
was a distinct possibility.
My theory remains that Mayer personally uses and prefers the iPhone. I think she has good taste, especially by the standards of Google and Yahoo executives. Her influence fell at Google as Android’s rose.
Is a Federated Twitter Even Possible? ★
The moral of the story is that the qualities that make Twitter
interesting — its mix of conversation, discovery, and one-to-many
communication — are direct consequences of its centralized
architecture. Without the centralization you can still have
something interesting, but it’s a different thing.
Why Waiting in Line Is Torture ★
Tom Petty nailed it.
Black Widow ★
Astute observation from Dustin Curtis:
Outside of the direct value from its graph, Twitter is in an
extremely unusual position for a social service. While it is
ostensibly a sharing service, it is actually a broadcasting
medium. People use Twitter more like they use TV; they follow
accounts they are interested in, namely celebrities and companies,
and then they consume the content as a form of entertainment.
Normal people have very little incentive to use Twitter except to
communicate unidirectionally with their interests. This is why it
has been shown that the vast majority of Twitter users who sign up
never tweet, even though a huge number of those people view their
Where by “TV”, he means traditional TV, where people watch what’s on right now, not the time-shifting or on-demand style of TV that many of us are now accustomed to. That’s why advertisers are so intrigued, perhaps — it brings back some control over not just what viewers see, but when they see it.
Samsung Store Opens in Sydney ★
“Apple? Never heard of them.”
Why Tim Edwards Is Uninstalling Windows 8 ★
Speaking of Windows 8, this is a rather scathing review:
The email app is horrendous. It is the worst email client I have
ever used. It’s a full-screen Metro abomination that hides or is
missing basic and vital functionality (search, column sorting,
filtering). It’s full-screen, but only shows a small sample of
your messages — so the screen real-estate is massively wasted. If
you have multiple email accounts, there’s no combined inbox view.
It’s slow to check and sync your email — unless you force a manual
refresh. And the first time you use it, you will struggle to find
the ‘send email’ button. Pro-tip — it’s the (+) in the top right.
I’ve tried to remain skeptical of pessimistic Windows 8 reviews. Anything different is going to draw negative reviews. The iPhone was panned by many at first, and the iPad even more so. I’d be worried if reviews of Windows 8 were consistently in the “it’s pretty good” range. Microsoft needs it to be disruptive, and that’s going to turn some people off, even if it’s brilliant.
But Edwards’s review makes it sound incomplete. No search for email? That can’t be right, can it?
Microsoft Unveils New Logo ★
A few quick reactions:
- The four-pane thing used to be the Windows logo; now it’s the logo for the whole company. Windows, Windows, Windows, Windows.
- Very similar in color palette to Google, especially Chrome. Now, Microsoft has been using the (clockwise from top left) red-green-yellow-blue squares at least since Windows 3.1 back in 1992, so I’m not saying Microsoft is copying or following Google here. I’m just saying if you put this logo next to Chrome’s, it’s hard not to notice they’re pretty much the exact same colors.
- The perfectly square corners (echoed throughout Metro) are very different from Apple’s roundrects everywhere ethos.
- The logotype is set using Segoe, the same font the company uses for its advertising, packaging, and the Windows 8 system UI. Cf. my footnote last week speculating that Apple might use Myriad as the system font in Mac OS X (or even iOS?) — which speculation presupposes that Apple could work out a licensing deal with their good friends at Adobe, who I’m sure harbor no hard feelings over the whole “Thoughts on Flash” thing.
Protocols Don’t Mean Much ★
Think of a protocol like a road. You could have a wonderful road.
Well paved. Wide lanes. Great rest areas. But if it goes from
nowhere to nowhere, it’s not going to be very popular, no matter
how nice it is.
Glassboard Premium ★
Glassboard premium was created to give you more of what you need
from Glassboard — more storage, more boards, the ability to
bookmark messages and much more, all for just $5/month.
‘This Looks Like Some Serious Bullshit on Twitter’s Part’ ★
Marco Arment on Twitter giving Tumblr the boot.
Introducing Tent ★
The best argument against App.net is that no matter how noble their intentions and stated goals, in the long run we’ll be no better off replacing one centralized service with another. If we — the tech nerd community who can get this sort of thing off the ground — are going to throw our weight behind an upstart competitor to Twitter, then it ought to be a decentralized service, not another centralized one.
Tent looks like an attempt at such a thing. (Via Loren Brichter.)
Update: To be clear, I’m not turning against App.net. Just making the devil’s advocate argument against it. I think a centralized for-profit service is more likely to, well, actually ship — not to mention succeed at large scale.
App.net Isn’t Just a Country Club ★
So let’s take back our stuff. I love Twitter’s product, but I
believe it’s on the path of Prodigy and CompuServe: so desperate
not to become a dumb pipe like AOL that it will soon become
So the question is not whether Twitter’s going to cut Flipboard
off, it’s simply when: Will it wait until the new rules kick
into place in six months? Or will it go after Flipboard sooner,
with the ensuing election news extravaganza coming up?
As with Instagram, the change does not seem to have affected
sharing outwards, but will impede users’ ability to follow friends
that they may know from Twitter. This is part of Twitter turning
the screws on sharing information about the users of its network
out to other services like Instagram (and by extension, Facebook)
The hits just keep on coming.
‘It Was Wonderful, Marvelous, Magnificent, Superb, Glorious, Sublime, Lovely, Delightful…’ ★
Erin McKean, on editing David Foster Wallace’s “word notes” for the aforelinked Oxford American Writer’s Thesaurus:
For some writers, reading the copy-edits is like going to the
dentist. You know you have to, and you’ll be happy, long-term,
that you did, but the actual process involves a certain amount
of drooling discomfort and incoherent mumbling. Other writers
think of copy-editing as massage: someone works you over, and
then you stumble out feeling good — kind of dazed, and a bit
greasy, but good.
David Foster Wallace’s reaction to the copyedit was more like
someone invited him to an all-day grammar seminar (with celebrity
photo signings and vendor’s expo hall), combined with a debating
society picnic, where the topic was “RESOLVED: This Comma Should
Bait and Switch: What’s Behind AT&T’s Stance on FaceTime ★
Smart piece by Stacey Higginbotham, writing for GigaOm, on AT&T’s bullshit regarding FaceTime:
In this one paragraph Quinn hides everything you need to know
about this move. The shared plans get a plug, the sleight of hand
that equates Wi-Fi with cellular access is accomplished, and AT&T
plays the network-management card, which is kind of like a
get-out-of-jail-free card for net-neutrality violations anyhow.
Defining Wi-Fi as wireless helps AT&T in both wireline and
wireless net-neutrality fights, which is why this is such an
Apple Pulls ‘Genius’ TV Ads From YouTube and Apple.com ★
Jordan Golson, MacRumors:
Apple does tend to remove older advertisements from its website
and YouTube over time, but the company still has ads on YouTube
from as far back as November 2010.
When you’re in a hole, stop digging.
The Disciplined Pursuit of Less ★
Greg McKeown, writing for Harvard Business Review:
Why don’t successful people and organizations automatically
become very successful? One important explanation is due to what
I call “the clarity paradox,” which can be summed up in four
- Phase 1: When we really have clarity of purpose, it leads to
- Phase 2: When we have success, it leads to more options and
- Phase 3: When we have increased options and opportunities, it
leads to diffused efforts.
- Phase 4: Diffused efforts undermine the very clarity that led to
our success in the first place.
Curiously, and overstating the point in order to make it, success
is a catalyst for failure.
(Via Kottke.) I like this as a basic theory for understanding Apple’s exceptional success. Steve Jobs was famous for his pride in saying “no”. At All Things D in 2004, asked about an Apple PDA: “I’m as proud of the products that we have not done as I am of the products we have done.” (Other examples here and here.)
Tim Cook, at the 2010 Goldman Sachs technology conference:
We can put all of our products on the table you’re sitting at.
Those products together sell $40 billion per year. No other
company can make that claim except perhaps an oil company. We are
the most focused company that I know of, or have read of, or have
any knowledge of.
We say no to good ideas every day; we say no to great ideas; to
keep the number of things we focus on small in number.
Matt Drance on the Trial ★
I must admit I’m uncomfortable with the idea that the world’s
largest corporation, whatever its name, could be given such a big
stick as early as this week.
I’m of a similar mind. I think Apple deserves to win, and from what I’ve read of the trial’s evidence and arguments, I suspect they will win. But I think the net result will be an affirmation of the U.S. software patent system, which is not good at all.
Apple-Samsung Closing Arguments ★
Tim Bradshaw, reporting for The Financial Times:
Mr McElhinny suggested that “every smartphone does not have to
look like an iPhone”, showing pictures of other devices including
Nokia’s Lumia and a Casio phone.
The Verge’s live coverage of the arguments mentions the Lumia and a Sony Xperia Arc. Although it’s certainly true that Casio makes smartphones that look a little different from the iPhone.
Mr McElhinny alleged that Samsung had “disrespected” the legal
process by refusing to bring its most senior executives over from
South Korea, a position he contrasted with appearances from
Apple’s Scott Forstall and Phil Schiller, its software and
marketing chiefs respectively. “They were willing to face cross
examination,” he said. “No Samsung executive was prepared to come
here from Korea and answer questions under oath. Instead of
witnesses, they sent you lawyers.”
I hadn’t thought of the “cowardice” angle here before.
AAPL Share Price Claim Chowder: The Economist ★
“M.G.”, writing for The Economist, regarding Apple’s breaking of Microsoft’s record for nominal (although not inflation-adjusted) market capitalization:
Yet some bulls think that the stellar rise of the firm’s share
price is far from over. Jefferies, an investment bank, believes
Apple’s shares could hit $900 each and some investors reckon the
price could go even higher, rasing [sic] the possibility that
Apple could become the world’s first public company with a
trillion dollar market capitalisation. This smacks of hype rather
than hard-headed analysis. Apple still has plenty of room to grow,
but even the brightest corporate stars cannot sparkle forever.
And that’s how the piece ends. Seems awfully facile for The Economist. No one’s arguing that Apple’s “corporate star” will sparkle forever. The question is simply whether Apple’s market cap, now at $665 billion, can grow half again. Given the growth trajectories for both iPhone and iPad sales and the company’s remarkable profit margins, I’d say the onus is on the Apple bears to explain why the company has reached or even neared its peak.
The hardest-headed analysis I’ve seen suggests the opposite: that Apple hasn’t yet neared its peak.
Android Police: Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 Review ★
Ron Amadeo reviews the Samsung Galaxy Note for Android Police:
The hardware is pure, unadulterated garbage. The build quality is
so bad, I think it gave me cancer.
Twitter should hire this guy, with his clear crisp succinct style, to write their company blog posts.
Lex Friedman, writing for Macworld:
Macworld has spoken with several developers behind third-party
Twitter apps — or at least, we’ve tried. Some developers are
notably hesitant to speak on the record, lest they incur Twitter’s
wrath; the fear seems to be that since Twitter is now exerting
more control than ever over access to its API — which developers
leverage to make their Twitter apps work — that irking Twitter
too much might result in a developer’s API access getting revoked.
If you worked at Twitter, wouldn’t this give you pause? Does Twitter really want its developers to fear them? Fear breeds resentment.
Explaining his optimism, the developer referenced existing
developers’ ability to double their user bases, and highlighting
the fact that “Twitter left the door open” for developers by
saying that, once they hit their user caps, they would need
explicit permission from the company. That’s better than saying
that once you hit the cap, you’re entirely out of luck — though
Twitter hasn’t said under what circumstances, if any, it would
grant third-party developers increases in those user caps.
“I don’t know what the end-game is, and I’m not sure [Twitter
does] either,” the developer said. “We’ve all known for a while
they don’t want third party clients; I’d love to know why.”
Wouldn’t we all?
FF Chartwell ★
Speaking of interesting typefaces, FF Chartwell is kind of mind-blowing. (Via Mark Wilson.)
Gedeon Maheux of The Iconfactory:
For the past several months, we’ve been working on a major update
to Twitterrific that we’re very excited about. There were concerns
that this new version might end up on the cutting room floor prior
to Twitter’s announcement, but after reviewing the new
restrictions and speaking with the team at Twitter, we’re pleased
to report that our development plans remain unchanged.
Sounds like good news.
On the Ugliness of Non-Retina Apps Running on the MacBook Pro With Retina Display ★
Aaron Pressman thinks I should have spent more time in my review of the 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display complaining about third-party Mac apps that haven’t yet been updated with retina-caliber UI elements, and particularly those which don’t even support retina-quality type:
The program in the upper left corner is Microsoft Word. Look at
the jaggies in that 12 point type. Ugly. Now look over to the top
right. That’s Apple’s own Pages program with the same words in the
same font also at 12 points. Yummy. Likewise, in mid-screen is
Apple’s TextEdit program. Smooth as a baby’s bottom. And in the
lower foreground, Adobe’s Dreamweaver with text that looks like,
well, like ass as Gruber might say.
But, hey, the guy at the Apple store tells me everything will look
a lot better as soon as other software makers update their apps to
take advantage of the Retina display.
No doubt, that’s one of the significant downsides to buying a MacBook Pro with Retina Display today. And no surprise, Microsoft Office and the Adobe Creative Suite apps are among the apps which don’t even support retina-quality type. (That list includes my beloved BBEdit as well.) I’m not sure what Pressman’s argument is, though. It’s no different than any previous transition — PowerPC to Intel, classic Mac OS to Mac OS X, etc. Apple ships first; developers like Microsoft and Adobe catch up later.
Update: It ends up Word’s text rendering engine is already resolution independent, but you need to hack some metadata in the current app bundle to enable it. It’s just the UI chrome Microsoft needs to work on.
How Hollywood Is Encouraging Online Piracy ★
David Pogue, writing for Scientific American:
The people want movies. None of Hollywood’s baffling legal
constructs will stop the demand. The studios are trying to prevent
a dam from bursting by putting up a picket fence.
Good article, but don’t waste your time loading the second “page” — it inexplicably only contains two sentences.
Speaking of typewriters, I adore this typeface by Kris Sowersby. It’s a better Courier than Courier.
I Like My Clicky Keyboards, but This Is a Bit Much, Even for Me ★
I still think it’s cool, though.
Windows 8 Pro to Be Priced at $199 Following $69 Promotional Pricing ★
Tom Warren, The Verge:
Microsoft’s Windows 8 Pro software will be priced at $199 after a
promotional price of $69.99 expires on January 31st 2013,
according to one source familiar with Microsoft’s plans. The
software maker will also offer a Windows 8 to Windows 8 Pro
upgrade option at retail stores for $69.99 until January 31st when
the price reverts to $99.99.
Microsoft previously announced its $39.99 Windows 8 Pro upgrade
pricing for existing Windows XP, Windows Vista, or Windows 7 users
— a price available exclusively online for those wishing to
download the software without a DVD option.
What decade are we in?
‘A Denser Star for Lesser Planets to Orbit’ ★
Speaking of David Foster Wallace, Newsweek has an excerpt from D.T. Max’s Wallace biography, regarding the run-up to and writing of Infinite Jest.
(Thanks to Chris Long.)
David Foster Wallace’s ‘Word Notes’ in the Oxford American Writer’s Thesaurus in OS X’s Dictionary App ★
Dave Madden (posted a year ago, but news to me):
A couple years ago, I blogged about my beloved Oxford American
Writer’s Thesaurus, and how it includes little bits of copy about
words and their usage by writers like David Foster Wallace,
Francine Prose, Zadie Smith, Simon Winchester, and the composer
Stephin Merritt (among others). I bought a copy online and keep it
always near my desk.
Did you know everyone already has a copy on his or her Mac?
It’s part of the built-in dictionary. Type in a word, click on
“Thesaurus” in the little bar above, and you’ll get the
word-for-word entry from this book I paid money for.
Better yet, it also has all the “Word Notes” by these writers.
Madden includes a list of Wallace’s entries, but several of them are hard to find, (all of is at all), and there are several I could not find at all: as, beg, bland, dialogue, dysphesia, fervent, individual, loan, toward, utilize. But the ones that are there are a joy to read. (Thanks to Jacob Rus.)
Update: Several readers have pointed out that the missing words are available in the Snow Leopard (10.6) version of Dictionary, but are no longer available in Lion or Mountain Lion.
Leaked Official Apple iPhone 5 Promo Video ★
Looks like an even better camera lens than the aforelinked Android-based Nikon.
Upcoming Android Nikon Coolpix Camera ★
Think about Instagram on this. Or Dropbox. Or something like iPhoto for making adjustments. The digital camera need not be a computer peripheral — it could be its own standalone device. Snap photos, tweak them using apps on the camera itself, and upload them to Dropbox or Flickr or whatever for long-term storage.
My thanks to Pixate for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed to promote their Kickstarter project. In a nut, they’re working on a project to allow iOS (and eventually other platforms like Android) developers to style their native apps using CSS. Change the stylesheet, change the look of your app. Their engine uses native UI controls, not rendering everything as HTML, for high performance.
Sounds cool, and they’re really close to their funding goal. They even have a special pledge level just for DF readers. Check out their video and help Pixate hit their funding goal.
Don’t Panic ★
Paul Haddad, of Tapbots:
There’s been a lot of fear, uncertainty and doubt generated by
Twitter’s latest announcement. I wanted to let everyone know
that the world isn’t ending, Tweetbot for Mac is coming out
soon, Tweetbot for iOS isn’t going anywhere. So sit down, grab
a towel and let’s go over some of these API changes.
The first great Twitter client, and the one that paved the way for many of the conventions we now take for granted in all Twitter clients. Not to mention the way it paved the way for Twitter’s own brand — when The Iconfactory created Ollie the bird to represent the Twitterrific icon and brand, Twitter itself wasn’t using a bird of any shape. It’s remarkable how much of what we now think of as “Twitter” was created by third-party developers.
Twittelator Neue ★
I linked this app up back in February, but it’s worth a re-link in light of yesterday’s shit sandwich for Twitter client developers. What I wrote then still stands:
I sing the praises of Tweetbot every few weeks, but I still
believe what I wrote almost three years ago: “Twitter Clients Are
a UI Design Playground”. Another new iOS Twitter client that
deserves attention is Twittelator Neue, from Stone Design. In a
sense it’s a rather opposite design approach from Tweetbot —
light vs. heavy.
Twittelator Neue is really good work, and it’s exactly the sort of app Twitter is explicitly seeking to discourage. Now’s the time to support apps like this.
Video Clip of Speaker Brought in by Retail Chief John Browett to Motivate Apple Retail Employees ★
“Second prize is a set of steak knives. Third prize is you’re fired.”
Anil Dash: ‘What Twitter’s API Announcement Could Have Said’ ★
Anil Dash does a nice job here writing Twitter’s MBA-speak written-by-committee gibberish (surely it pained Michael Sippey — who is a great writer — to put his byline on that thing) into plain English. But along the way, he also makes some assumptions about Twitter’s intentions, e.g. with this passage:
Oh, and if you need a lot of user tokens (like, more than
100,000), get in touch with us and we’ll take care of you
personally. If you try to make that volume of calls without a
special request, you might get shut off.
In Dash’s version, it sounds like popular apps would have to ask for but would probably be granted additional user tokens after hitting the 100K limit. In Sippey/Twitter’s actual version, there’s no such “we’ll take care of you” vibe whatsoever:
Additionally, if you are building a Twitter client application
that is accessing the home timeline, account settings or direct
messages API endpoints (typically used by traditional client
applications) or are using our User Streams product, you will need
our permission if your application will require more than 100,000
individual user tokens.
Matthew Panzarino on Twitter’s New Guidelines ★
That means that no third-party client can ever have more than
100k users, unless given special permission by Twitter or it
already has over 100k right now, in which case it can have double
This move puts a life span on most for-pay clients, as they’ll
reach a point where there is no longer any reason for them to
continue offering these apps for sale. Let’s call it Max Reach .
If you’re a user of a favorite third-party client already, you’re
in, but those who wish to get in on one in the future will need to
get cracking if they want to get in under the cap. […]
Basically, Twitter just told all developers exactly how much money
they can ever make selling a for-pay client. The future of Twitter
is its official apps.
And it’s a huge discouragement for starting any new Twitter clients. Regarding Twitter’s new “Display Guidelines”, Panzarino flags the same rule that caught my eye:
Section 3b. is also an interesting one, as it says that “no other
social or 3rd party actions may be attached to a Tweet”. This
appears to indicate that actions like “send to Instapaper” or
“view in Favstar” are outlawed, but that’s unclear still.
Upheaval in Apple Retail Stores? ★
Gary Allen, writing at IfoAppleStore:
But according to those with close ties to the retail stores,
Browett feels the stores are “too bloated” with employees, and he
is willing to gamble the stores’ legendary customer experience to
gain back a few points of profit margin. Browett’s decision
reportedly came despite strongly-worded advice from Retail segment
veterans that reducing personnel ahead of the annual
Back-to-School promotion and the September introduction of the
iPhone 5 could create a customer service catastrophe. Browett
disagreed with his staff, and said the chain needs to learn to run
“leaner” in all areas, even if the customer experience is
Update: Within 24 hours of this posting, a story by The Wall
Street Journal stated that Browett had admitted the personnel
changes were a mistake and the changes had been rescinded.
However, he denied that any employees had been laid off.
“Even if the customer experience is compromised” are Allen’s words, summarizing what he heard from his sources, not Browett’s. But if they’re accurate, it’s hard to conclude anything other than that Apple made a terrible decision hiring him.
Lovely super-simple little tweet-posting app for the Mac. Obviated, perhaps, by Mountain Lion’s tweet-from-notification-center feature, but Wren is very well done. Thank goodness Twitter wants to put an end to apps like this.
Michael Sippey of Twitter has posted another hard-to-understand-what-they-really-mean update on Twitter’s evolving stance on third-party API usage. Scroll down and look at that insipid four-quadrant matrix, where the top-right quadrant represents the stuff Twitter is discouraging. In the “good” quadrants are bullshit terms like “Social CRM”, “Social analytics”, and “Social influence ranking”. Sippey writes:
In the lower-right quadrant are services that use Twitter content
for social influence ranking, such as Klout.
In the upper right-hand quadrant are services that enable users to
interact with Tweets, like the Tweet curation service Storify or
the Tweet discovery site Favstar.fm.
That upper-right quadrant also includes, of course, “traditional”
Twitter clients like Tweetbot and Echofon. Nearly eighteen months
ago, we gave developers guidance that they should not build client
apps that mimic or reproduce the mainstream Twitter consumer
client experience.” And to reiterate what I wrote in my last post,
that guidance continues to apply today.
So Klout, which is utter vainglorious masturbatory nonsense, that’s OK. But services like Storify and Favstar, which are actually useful and/or fun, those are no good. And don’t even get me started on Twitter turning against client apps. For chrissake Twitter’s own app started life as a third-party client.
On Apple’s Acquisition of Fingerprint Sensor Maker AuthenTec ★
Interesting analysis by Matt Brian at The Next Web regarding the negotiations between Apple and AuthenTec, as gleaned from AuthenTec’s SEC filing on the acquisition:
On May 8, after consultations with its board and investors and
discussion of whether it would be able to pursue takeover deals
with other consumer electronic companies, AuthenTec countered
Apple’s bid and said that it would require $9.00 per share for
talks to continue. Apple said it would not offer more than $8.00
per share, and over the next three weeks the two parties worked on
finalising the deal. […]
After much deliberation between AuthenTec, Apple, Alston & Bird
and Piper Jaffray, a deal was agreed on the evening of July 26.
Apple would pay $8.00 per share, provide $20 million for
AuthenTec’s technologies and license its technologies for up to
I can’t agree with Brian’s conclusion, though:
Throughout its meetings with AuthenTec, Apple was keen to express
that work on the new technology must continue unhindered,
regardless of whether it entered a commercial agreement (which
involved royalties, patent licensing and its exclusive use) or it
acquired the company.
Will we see fingerprint technology in the new iPhone (or iPad)? It
seems almost certain.
The only thing that seems certain is that Apple has been hard at work on something related to AuthenTec technology. That doesn’t mean it will ever ship in an actual product, let alone in products that are set to be announced this year. A new iPhone or iPad that Apple would announce next month would have been in EVT prototype production back in April or so, and DVT prototype production this summer. Decisions like adding a new type of sensor have to be made relatively far in advance. If Apple was working hard and fast in mid-2012 to incorporate fingerprint sensors in a product, I bet that product isn’t hitting the market until 2013 at the earliest.
Hipstamatic Lays Off All but Core Employees, Including Designers and Engineers ★
Toy camera app company Hipstamatic has fired all but 5 of its
core staff, including engineers and designers, The Next Web
has learned. The company had been staffed up and working on a
new release, but has only released one update in the last
My pal Jonathan Wight was one of the engineers let go:
Would love if the entire team could get snapped up by
someone. Really is an awesome fucking team. Totally
squandered where we were.
Some really smart guys on that team, including Wight and Justin Williams.
Because That’s Where the Content Is ★
MG Siegler, on today’s WSJ report that Apple is in talks with cable companies about a deal for an Apple TV product that works with cable TV:
This should surprise absolutely no one. In fact, the news isn’t
even actually new. Apple has been talking to these guys for years.
And they’ll keep talking to them right up until they debut
whatever it is they’re going to debut.
It seems that the shock of this news is more around the fact that
Apple may not actually completely transform the industry
overnight. No shit. You know what other industry they didn’t
transform over night? The mobile industry.
Or the music industry for that matter. The iTunes Music Store wasn’t some all-new thing that obviated the existing music industry — it was built on top of the existing music industry.
Speaking of Cheaters ★
Kyle Hightower, reporting for the AP:
One of the top young Scrabble players in the country has been
kicked out of the game’s national championship tournament in
Florida after he was caught hiding blank letter tiles, organizers
Melky Cabrera, Star Hitter for San Francisco Giants, Suspended 50 Games for Doping Testosterone ★
Like with Ryan Braun last year, this just makes me sad. Even worse, Cabrera, batting .346, not only might win the NL batting title, but is the projected favorite to do so.
‘Your Honor, First of All, I’m Not Smoking Crack.’ ★
Nerves getting frayed in the Apple-v.-Samsung courtroom.
Reddit ‘Ask Me Anything’ Thread With Members of NASA’s Mars Curiosity Rover Team ★
Fascinating stuff. TPM has an article summarizing the most interesting answers.
Michael Burford devised a more clever way of guesstimating the weight of an iPad Air than I did. I like his assumptions and I like his math.
MG Siegler on the Weights of Various Devices ★
My guesstimated weight for the iPad Air sure looks light, looking at this list. Even if I overshot and the thing weighs somewhere in the 300-400 gram range, that’d still be pretty damn light. (And that Surface Pro sure seems like a brick at 903 grams.)
Bonus Points for Using ‘Festooned’ in a Sentence ★
David Pogue, reviewing the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1:
Moreover, Samsung’s software designers must be former Hollywood
art directors who fabricated alien spacecraft; Samsung’s apps are
festooned with bizarre icons. None of them have identifying text
labels, and their logos are frequently so unhelpful they may as
well be random Cyrillic letters. Would you guess, for example,
that to turn on handwriting recognition, you tap an icon that
shows a circle in front of a mountain?
Some of the icons in S Note actually display a different menu
every other time you tap them. I’m not making this up.
So I guess they’ve stopped copying Apple’s icons.
Engadget: Surface RT Tablet Might Cost Just $199 ★
Blockbuster rumor from Tim Stevens at Engadget:
According to an inside source, a session was held at Microsoft’s
recent TechReady15 conference in which all the launch details were
laid out. If things go according to the plan detailed then, the
Surface for Windows RT tablet will be launching October 26th — no
surprise there — at a compelling price of $199.
That MSRP, almost certainly lower than Microsoft’s own cost, would
line it up against the Nexus 7 and even the Kindle Fire.
If true, it’s an aggressive, almost incredibly bold move by Microsoft. They’d not only be losing billions of dollars to juice sales, they’d be throwing their OEM partners under a bus. Microsoft might be willing to lose money on each sale to grow the platform, but OEM PC makers need to sell tablets for a profit.
If false, this is a perfect example of Microsoft mismanaging expectations. By not giving a price at the introduction, they opened themselves up to something like this. Now, if it actually ships with an utterly reasonable price of, say, $399, everyone who believed this $199 rumor is going to see it as being twice as expensive as they expected. Under-promise and over-deliver — Microsoft should have given a price at the introduction and then tried to beat that price when the Surface actually shipped later in the year. Compare and contrast with the iPad, which, two months ahead of its introduction, was leaked to The Wall Street Journal as being expected to cost “under $1,000”. That expectation made the actual starting price of $499 seem not merely acceptable, but downright remarkable.
‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’ to Be Re-Released Theatrically on Imax ★
Steven Spielberg, in an interview with Dave Itzkoff:
But there’s not a lot of movies I want to go back into my archives
and do this for. Raiders is a movie of my own, that I can
actually stand to watch from beginning to end. In that sense, it
has a special place in my heart. I don’t rewrite it in my mind,
I’m not kicking myself for what I didn’t do. I’m just going along
for the ride like everybody else. It’s one of the few films that
I’ve directed that I can sit back objectively and observe and
enjoy with my family or whoever I’m with, or even alone. Most of
my other films, I’m hypercritical of them. I don’t have any plans
to re-release Close Encounters or Jaws.
One of my top five films. Very excited to see it on a huge screen.
Data Visualization of the DF Archive, Article by Article ★
Rather remarkable bit of work by Kemper Smith from Distant Shape, spelunking the DF archive. He read and tagged all 963 articles I wrote (before yesterday’s). I feel a little bad, as I’ve been tagging my articles all along, but my tagging data isn’t (yet) publicly exposed. If it were it could have saved Smith quite a bit of work. But on the other hand, I’m fascinated by the tags he chose (e.g. “Gruber Has Inside Information”, “Was Wrong About Something”). The whole desktop-vs.-mobile color spectrum thing is eye opening, as are the cyclical patterns for article length.
The ‘Retina Is Overkill’ Argument ★
“RobbCab”, posting in The Verge forums, argues that “Surface Pro has a better retina display than the iPad”:
What Apple has done here is create a “density war”, much like the
mega pixel war that raged in the digital camera world a few years
ago. We all know there are 9MP cameras that take much better
pictures than 21MP cameras. The same applies. Apple did what they
always do. They took the path of least resistance and sold it as a
“feature”. They chose 2048 × 1536 because it gave them an easy way
to handle scaling of applications as they just doubled everything.
It was not because it was the best resolution for viewing their
It never ceases to amaze me the logical hoops Apple critics will jump through to paint the company’s decisions in a poor light. You can argue that the iPad (3)’s retina display is overkill, that the Surface Pro’s denser-than-the-old-iPad-but-not-as-dense-as-the-new-iPad display dot-pitch makes a better tradeoff between pixel size (smaller is better) and battery life and graphics performance (more pixels consume more energy and computation time). But to say that Apple went to 2048 × 1536 with the iPad (3) as the “path of least resistance”? That’s something. (Me, I disagree entirely. The point of Apple’s push toward “retina displays” across its product line is simply that they look so much better.)
Also, again with the “let’s judge the Surface before anyone outside Microsoft has actually used one”.
On Surface Auguring a Resurgent Microsoft ★
Anil Dash, writing for Wired, is hopeful that the Surface portends a return of the Microsoft of old, and throws in a new-to-me theory that their consent decree with the DOJ hamstrung them over the past decade:
The government meddling was necessary, given Microsoft’s history
of stretching/flouting the law, and it forced the company into
some valuable concessions — like giving users more choice over
their default browsers and supporting open standards for web
pages. But it exacted a heavy toll on Microsoft’s ability to adapt
The tech scene since then has been all about Apple. True, Steve
Jobs headed up what is arguably the most remarkably innovative
decade of any company in history. But it’s worth noting that
Microsoft was handcuffed that entire time. While Windows is still
the most popular OS on the desktop, it’s struggling for relevance
on phones and has barely gotten started on tablets. Microsoft has
become an underdog in all of the most interesting areas of
But I don’t see how the consent decree held them back in the areas where Apple has thrived. Microsoft has not “barely gotten started on tablets” — they’ve been touting tablet computers longer and more emphatically than any technology company in the world. They had a mobile OS for smartphones on the market throughout the entire period of the consent decree. The problem wasn’t that the DOJ consent decree prevented the company from getting into the tablet and mobile phone space — the problem is that Microsoft’s entries in those spaces sucked. I haven’t read the whole thing, but I’m pretty sure the consent decree doesn’t contain any restrictions along the lines of “You can make tablets and smartphones, but they have to suck.”
If anyone questioned whether Microsoft could get back in the fight
once the cuffs finally came off, Surface should put those doubts
to rest. The gorgeous PC/tablet hybrid is the only example in
recent memory of a company clearly and emphatically going toe to
toe with Apple on the industrial design front. The iPad will have
to improve. Android tablets will have to improve. Surface isn’t
another me-too device — it moves the entire category forward.
Maybe. In fact, I hope so. But let’s wait until we get to, you know, actually use the thing before we declare it a winner. For all we know at this point, Surface might be the new Zune.
Top Ten Differences Between White Terrorists and Others ★
Handy list from Juan Cole.
Samsung’s ‘Smart TV’ IDE ★
They should call that app “S-Code”.
On the Planting of a Ridiculous Apple Rumor That Many Fell For ★
Lukasz Lindell, of the design company Day4:
One afternoon we sketched out a screw in our 3D program, a very
strange screw where the head was neither a star, tracks, pentalobe
or whatever, but a unique form, also very impractical. We rendered
the image, put it in an email, sent it to ourselves, took a
picture of the screen with the mail and anonymously uploaded the
image to the forum Reddit with the text “A friend took a photo a
while ago at that fruit company, they are obviously even creating
their own screws”.
Then we waited …
First hit, John Brownlee at Cult of Mac, with the delightful headline “Apple May Be Working on a Top Secret Asymmetric Screw to Lock You Out of Your Devices Forever”.
(Via Jim Dalrymple.)
When Documents in the Cloud Aren’t ★
Chris Breen on how to send a PDF file to nowhere with iCloud.
‘It’s Not Me Sitting at a Desk With a Calculator’ ★
Dan Levine and Edwin Chan, reporting for Reuters:
Accountant Terry Musika, citing Samsung records and testifying as
an Apple expert witness, estimated that $8.16 billion in revenue,
or 22.7 million of those total unit sales over that two-year
period, came from products that infringed Apple patents, such as
the first Galaxy S smartphone in July 2010. Samsung earned roughly
35.5 percent gross profit margin on that revenue, between June
2010 through March 2012, Musika said.
“It’s not me sitting at a desk with a calculator,” Musika, a
former KPMG and PriceWaterhouseCoopers accounting partner, told
“There are literally hundreds of millions of calculations,” he
said, adding that it took more than $1.75 million to employ a team
of 20 programmers, accountants, statisticians and economists to
work out damages over a plethora of gadgets.
$1.75 million just to tabulate the damages.
Voting for a Winner ★
Seth Godin, regarding some interesting Kickstarter project statistics:
- It’s important to create inevitability around the projects you
launch, wherever you launch them.
- One way to appear inevitable is to set a lower minimum
threshold for success. Setting a huge number feels bold and
even macho, but it’s clear that your fans would prefer to pile
on after you’ve reached your goal, not sweat or be begged to be
sure you reach it in the first place.
I noticed that piling-on effect over the weekend with App.net’s fundkicker. (Via Alex Hillman.)
The Martini FAQ ★
A splendid and delightfully well-written resource from Brad Gadberry. I’ve never seen anyone so deftly navigate the gin/vodka divide.
(Thanks to Ryan Irelan.)
‘Down to the Mac Nerd Guys’ ★
On this week’s episode of The Talk Show, special guest star John Siracusa joins yours truly for a quick two-hour twenty-minute chat about Mat Honan’s Apple ID account hacking, App.net and Twitter, Mountain Lion and Siracusa’s review thereof, and the origins and future of iOS.
Brought to you by two outstanding sponsors:
Idea Bucket: An innovative universal iOS app for helping you find your best ideas; on sale for a limited time for just $0.99.
Macworld Superguides: Great e-books with in-depth information from the world’s top Apple experts. Mountain Lion, iPhone photography, Mac Gems, and more.
How Many Tablets Samsung Has Sold in the U.S. ★
The discrepancy in the estimates of independent market researchers
is even greater. According to an IDC press release issued just
last week, Samsung sold 2,391,000 tablet computers worldwide in Q2
2012, up 117.6% from the same quarter last year. According to
Samsung’s court filing, it sold a total of 37,000 tablets in the
U.S. last quarter, down 86% year over year.
While its possible that Samsung’s overseas sales made up the
difference, it’s extremely unlikely. According to court
documents Apple (AAPL) filed Thursday, revealing for the first
time its domestic iPhone and iPad sales figures, the U.S.
represented an average of 42% of its worldwide tablet unit sales
over the past nine quarters. The U.S. share of iPad sales was
never lower than 26%.
If Samsung really sold 2.4 million tablets last quarter, as IDC
estimates, 1.5% were sold in the U.S. and 98.5% overseas. That’s
pretty hard to believe.
IDC has some explaining to do.
Microsoft’s New Name for Metro: ‘Windows 8’ ★
Mary Jo Foley:
Here’s the official guidance, my sources say: Anything
currently/formerly known as a “Metro-Style application” (with or
without a hyphen) will now be known officially as a “Windows 8
application.” References to the “Metro user interface” will now be
replaced by “Windows 8 user interface.” And instead of saying
“Metro design,” the Softies and those adhering to their official
guidelines will be using the words “Windows 8 design.”
Among numerous other problems posed by this change, how’s this going to work when Windows 9 ships?
Update: The Verge reports that Microsoft may instead refer to Metro-style UI as “Modern UI”. That’s better, but a little generic, to say the least.
The Effect of Typefaces on Credibility ★
Interesting experiment by filmmaker Errol Morris. (Via Kottke.)
Update: Several keen-eyed readers spotted something I missed. The graphs that accompany the article (for example, this one and this one) are highly misleading, insofar as they omit the first 10,000 responses from the bottom of the chart, so as to exaggerate the results. That’s not to say the effect does not exist, but it far more subtle than these graphs suggest.
In a nut, App.net is a startup aiming to build a rival platform to Twitter, “where users and developers come first, not advertisers.” How? By generating revenue from users instead of from advertisers. They’re not using Kickstarter but they’ve built their own Kickstarter-like system.
Alas, they’re five days away from the deadline and only 45 percent of the way to their goal. If you’re dismayed by Twitter’s shabby and getting-shabbier-by-the-month treatment of third-party developers and the ever-increasing mass-market promotional detritus littering Twitter’s first-party interfaces, I really encourage you to get on board as an App.net backer. I did, and I’m already liking what I’m seeing in the alpha release.
Samsung Calls B.S. on Apple’s Charges of Copying ★
From last night’s Conan O’Brien show.
HP to Incur $8 Billion ‘Impairment Charge’ ★
Matt Brian, reporting for The Next Web:
HP believes that its earnings-per-share will rise to $1.00 in its
third fiscal quarter, up from previous estimates of $0.94, but
will exclude the hefty $8 billion impairment charge that it
expects to record in the same period.
The $8 billion charge has been derived from an overview of HP’s
stock, taking in market conditions and business trends in its
Services segment. This basically means after it assessed and
tested the value of its assets (or goodwill), it has determined
that its Services business may be overvalued. As a result, it has
to issue an impairment charge on its balance sheet to take into
account the reduced value of its goodwill.
I have no idea what this actually means.
Update: A few readers emailed to explain that what this means is that HP overpaid by $8 billion on acquisitions to build its Services division — presumably at least in part the $13 billion HP paid for EDS in 2008. Keep that in mind next time you see someone draw up a list of expensive acquisitions for Apple to expend its cash hoard upon.
Starbucks and Square to Team Up ★
Here’s Jack Dorsey’s announcement.
Rename Active BBEdit Document Script ★
Matt Neuburg’s piece today on the document-saving changes in Mountain Lion included a bit about the convenient new File → Rename command, which reminded me of this AppleScript I wrote for BBEdit years ago to do the same thing — change the name of the current document in one easy step, circumventing any hassles with Save As dialogs. Might be of use to fellow BBEdit users.
‘Directions for Improvement’ ★
As part of its case against Samsung, Apple has shown snippets of
an internal Samsung document comparing the original Galaxy S phone
with the iPhone. On Tuesday, Apple managed to get the whole
132-page document admitted into evidence. And it’s a doozy. The
2010 report, translated from Korean, goes feature by feature,
evaluating how Samsung’s phone stacks up against the iPhone.
Authored by Samsung’s product engineering team, the document
evaluates everything from the home screen to the browser to the
built in apps on both devices. In each case, it comes up with a
recommendation on what Samsung should do going forward and in most
cases its answer is simple: Make it work more like the iPhone.
Paczkowski uploaded the whole thing to Scribd. You really have to read it to believe just how audacious it is.
Wired: Apple Suspends Over-the-Phone AppleID Password Resets ★
Nathan Olivarez-Giles and Mat Honan, writing for Gadget Lab:
An Apple worker with knowledge of the situation, speaking on
condition of anonymity, told Wired that the over-the-phone
password freeze would last at least 24 hours. The employee
speculated that the freeze was put in place to give Apple
more time to determine what security policies needed to be
changed, if any.
Compromising on ‘No Compromises’ ★
MG Siegler on the news that Office 2013 RT for Windows RT will be missing a bunch of features from Office 2013 for Windows Regular.
Malfunction, Not Confusion With iPad, Played Greater Role in Galaxy Tab Returns ★
Steven Musil, reporting for CNet:
The study was entered into evidence today in the high-stakes
patent trial between Apple and Samsung. There had been suggestions
that unhappy customers were returning Samsung’s tablet because
they originally thought they were buying an iPad, but the newly
released study reveals a different set of motivations.
The study, conducted last year at 30 Best Buy stores in New
York, Los Angeles, and Florida to determine why consumers were
returning the tablet, found that 25 percent of the returns cited
malfunctions such as browser freezes, lack of screen
sensitivity, and poor Wi-Fi connectivity. Another 17 percent
cited issues such as screen lagging, short battery life, and
inability to sync with PCs.
Uh, good news for Samsung?
Amazon Closes Account Security Hole ★
Nathan Olivarez-Giles, writing for Gadget Lab:
On Tuesday, Amazon handed down to its customer service department
a policy change that no longer allows people to call in and change
account settings, such as credit cards or email addresses
associated with its user accounts.
Amazon officials weren’t available for comment on the security
changes, but during phone calls to Amazon customer service on
Tuesday, representatives told us that the changes were sent out
this morning and put in place for “your security.”
Now it’s Apple’s move.
Speaking of the New Mountain Lion ‘Save As’ Command ★
Mac Performance Guide:
If one edits a document, then chooses Save As, then BOTH the
edited original document and the copy are saved, thus not only
saving a new copy, but silently saving the original with the same
changes, thus overwriting the original.
If you notice this auto-whack, you can “Revert To” the older
version (manually), but if you don’t notice, then at some later
date you’ll be in for a confusing surprise. And maybe an
OMG-what-happened (consider a customer invoice that was
Matt Neuburg points out this change in his aforelinked examination of document-model changes in Mountain Lion, but it deserves attention in and of itself. I’m hoping this is a bug or oversight in 10.8.0, because I honestly can’t see why anyone would want Save As to work this way.
With nearly all of these changes in 10.7 and 10.8 regarding documents and saving, it’s easy to see the tradeoffs involved. Maybe you prefer the old way, but you can see how other users (especially new Mac users) might benefit from the new way. But with this change to Save As, I can’t see how anyone benefits.
The Very Model of a Modern Mountain Lion Document ★
In the recently released OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion, Apple has done
something I thought they’d never do: they backtracked — sort of.
They heeded the objections of users to a major feature of Mac OS X
10.7 Lion, and took steps to meet those objections. They didn’t
remove the feature — that, I suppose, would be asking too much —
but they changed the interface and provided an increased range of
user choices and capabilities.
In this article, I’ll sketch out how Mountain Lion is different
from Lion with regard to this feature, and why, therefore, I
personally like Mountain Lion much more than Lion.
Detailed treatment of some very significant changes to document handling in Mountain Lion.
The Security Flaws in Apple’s iCloud Account Reset Policies ★
Amazon’s system is partially at fault, but the weakest link by far
is Apple. It’s appalling that they will give control of your
iCloud account to anyone who knows your name and address, which
are very easy for anyone to find, and the last four digits of your
credit card, which are usually considered safe to display on
websites and receipts.
At the bare minimum, for this level of recovery that bypasses
security questions, they should require confirmation of the entire
credit-card number and verification code, no matter what they need
to do to remain PCI-compliant and pull that off.
Apple needs to address this, and quickly. I can only wonder how many nogoodniks have been trying this scam in the last day now that it’s been widely publicized.
Update: I should point out that I disagree with Marco, though, about Apple requiring more credit card digits. This whole strategy of verification is fundamentally flawed. I wouldn’t write my iCloud password on a piece of paper in my wallet, but my wallet contains my home address and credit cards. Someone who finds my wallet should not be able to take over my iCloud account with nothing more than my driver’s license and credit card.
Apple’s Motivation for Suing Samsung ★
In a column on The New York Times last weekend, Nick Bilton wrote
that Apple is doing itself more harm than good in suing Samsung.
“By showing the public how it designs products that twice
radically changed the electronics industry, Apple could risk
losing some of its magic,” said Bilton.
I’m not going to say that Apple doesn’t care at all about keeping
its secrets, but this is a case of dealing with the lesser of two
evils. Sue Samsung now and show some old prototype photos but
stop them from copying future products, or let them continue
Agreed. The lawsuit is about Samsung’s actions over the past few years, but Apple’s goal is about what Samsung and other like-minded competitors will do over the next few years. The stakes are far higher than the $2+ billion Apple is seeking in damages.
Samsung Investigating Alleged Child Labor Abuse at Chinese Factory ★
Avram Piltch, writing for Laptop Magazine:
It looks like Apple and Samsung have another thing in common,
aside from their love of rectangular tablet designs: alleged labor
abuses at the Chinese factories which make their products. In a
scathing undercover report issued last night, activist group China
Labor Watch detailed a litany of alleged abuses, including
employing workers as young as 14, at Samsung supplier HEG’s
factory complex in mainland China.
I’m sure this will get just as much media attention as Apple’s supply chain labor practices have.
Samsung: Power, Corruption and Lies ★
Mic Wright, writing for The Kernel:
The idea that South Korea is a shiny futurescape of democratic
wonder is ultimately the result of sitting next to the fetid,
Communist disaster that is North Korea.
The South looks better, thanks to the success consumer technology
and semiconductors has brought, it but the grip of the chaebols is
pernicious and corruption lies beneath every facet of Korean
You’re welcome to love Android and hate Apple. Just don’t be
fooled into thinking Samsung are the good guys.
Acer Chief Takes Aim at Microsoft Surface ★
Robert Budden and Sarah Mishkin, reporting for the Financial Times:
JT Wang, chairman and chief executive of Acer, said Microsoft’s
plans to launch its own “Surface” tablet in October — in direct
competition with his company’s Iconia or HP’s TouchPad tablets
would be “negative for the worldwide ecosystem” in computing. He
is the first head of a big PC maker to criticise Microsoft’s move
“We have said [to Microsoft] think it over,” he told the Financial
Times. “Think twice. It will create a huge negative impact for the
ecosystem and other brands may take a negative reaction. It is not
something you are good at so please think twice.”
A little late for that now.
Campbell Kan, Acer’s president for personal computer global
operations, said the Taiwanese company was debating internally how
to respond to the Surface and any further challenges that could
arise if Microsoft expands further into hardware.
“If Microsoft … is going to do hardware business, what should we
do? Should we still rely on Microsoft, or should we find other
alternatives?,” Mr Kan said.
Here’s the problem for Acer and all the other PC makers — what alternatives? Linux? No one wants it. Android? Google’s in the hardware business now too. That’s why Microsoft can make this play — the PC makers have no leverage.
The Computing Tech Specs of NASA’s Curiosity ★
Sebastian Anthony, writing for ExtremeTech:
In Curiosity’s case, the CPU is a PowerPC 750 (PowerPC G3 in Mac
nomenclature) clocked at around 200MHz — which might seem slow,
but it’s still hundreds of times faster than, say, the Apollo
Guidance Computer used in the first Moon landings. Also on the
motherboard are 256MB of DRAM, and 2GB of flash storage — which
will be used to store video and scientific data before
transmission to Earth. […]
On the software side of things, NASA again stuck to
tried-and-tested solutions, opting for the 27-year-old VxWorks
operating system. VxWorks, developed by Wind River Systems (which
was acquired by Intel), is a real-time operating system used in a
huge number of embedded systems. The previous Mars rovers
(Sojourner, Spirit, Opportunity), Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, and
the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft all use VxWorks. VxWorks also powers
BMW iDrive, the Apache Longbow helicopter, and the Apple Airport
Extreme and Linksys WRT54G routers (really).
Fascinating, really, that these specs seem so humble — especially storage capacity.
iPhone Caused ‘Crisis of Design’ at Samsung ★
It’s a memo that Samsung didn’t want admitted into the trial, and
until now had kept it out. But this morning, when Samsung legal
counsel John Quinn mentioned the “crisis of design” moment in a
question to Samsung strategist Justin Denison, all bets were off,
and the memo was in.
“Influential figures outside the company come across the iPhone,
and they point out that ‘Samsung is dozing off.’ All this time
we’ve been paying all our attention to Nokia, and concentrated our
efforts on things like Folder, Bar, Slide,” Shin wrote. “Yet when
our UX is compared to the unexpected competitor Apple’s iPhone,
the difference is truly that of Heaven and Earth. It’s a crisis of
Not sure what they were worried about. It’s just black rectangles.
Should We Assume That Apple Killed the iOS YouTube App, and Not the Other Way Around? ★
Apple killing YouTube on iPhone just happens to be the last
straw. Went into the AT&T store today to begin switch to my
Jean-Louis Gassée, in response:
How do we know Apple “killed” the iOS YouTube app? What if it is
the other way around?
The iOS YouTube app had no ads. What if Google wanted ads and
Apple said no? Next, a YouTube app from GOOG, with ads.
We don’t know. No one (outside Google and Apple) knows what the previous licensing terms were, and no one knows what terms (if any) were proposed going forward. And for that matter, I don’t think anyone should assume that the YouTube experience on iOS is necessarily going to be worse without this app built in.
How Apple and Amazon Security Flaws Led to Mat Honan’s Epic Hacking ★
But what happened to me exposes vital security flaws in several
customer service systems, most notably Apple and Amazon’s. Apple
tech support gave the hackers access to my iCloud account. Amazon
tech support gave them the ability to see a piece of information
— a partial credit card number — that Apple used to release
information. In short, the very four digits that Amazon considers
unimportant enough to display in the clear on the Web are
precisely the same ones that Apple considers secure enough to
perform identity verification. The disconnect exposes flaws in
data management policies endemic to the entire technology
industry, and points to a looming nightmare as we enter the era of
cloud computing and connected devices.
StatCounter: Google Chrome Passes IE for Lead in Global Browser Market ★
Impressive achievement in just four years.
iOS 6 Beta 4 Removes Dedicated YouTube App ★
I’ve been expecting this ever since YouTube didn’t make it into Mountain Lion’s system-wide sharing feature. Apple gave this statement to The Verge:
Our license to include the YouTube app in iOS has ended, customers
can use YouTube in the Safari browser and Google is working on a
new YouTube app to be on the App Store.
Update: Some smart analysis on this move from Matthew Panzarino.
Apple vs. Samsung: A Visual Guide to Apple’s IP Claims ★
Nice comparison from PeanutbutterEggDirt. See also this post from John Paczkowski.
‘A Drive Into the Gap’ ★
I was lucky enough to get a chance to read Kevin Guilfoile’s new book a few weeks ago, and it’s just splendid. The first chapter is right here, and I bet by the end, you’re clicking the “Buy” button.
Field Notes ‘Day Game’ Edition ★
New batch of baseball-themed Field Notes notebooks? And a copy of Kevin Guilfoile’s new book, A Drive Into the Gap? Sold.
Usain Bolt vs. 116 Years of Olympic Sprinters ★
Fascinating infographic work by the NYT, showing how Usain Bolt’s second 100-meter sprint gold medal performance compares against all previous medalists in the event. Don’t miss the links to similar treatments for other events at the bottom.
Curiosity Rover Lands on Mars ★
Kenneth Chang, reporting for the NYT:
The rover, called Curiosity, ushers in a new era of exploration
that could turn up evidence that the Red Planet once had the
necessary ingredients for life — or might even still harbor
life today. NASA and administration officials were also quick to
point to the success to counter criticism that the space agency
had turned into a creaky bureaucracy incapable of matching its
Microsoft Drops ‘Metro’ Name ★
But sources are telling us that this is coming to an abrupt end
after the company’s Legal and Corporate Affairs team sent out a
memo banning the word “Metro.” LCA’s memo reportedly says that
Microsoft has been threatened with legal action for infringing on
“Metro” trademarks held by German retailer Metro AG.
From now on, the new terminology that Microsoft is using is
“Windows 8-style UI” when talking about Windows 8 applications,
and “New User Interface” when talking about the company’s full
“Windows 8-style UI”. That’s catchy.
Black Hat Hacker Gains Access to 4 Million Hotel Rooms With Arduino Microcontroller ★
Sebastian Anthony, writing for ExtremeTech:
I wish I could say that Brocious spent months on this hack,
painstakingly reverse-engineering the Onity lock protocol, but the
truth is far more depressing. “With how stupidly simple this is,
it wouldn’t surprise me if a thousand other people have found this
same vulnerability and sold it to other governments,” says
Brocious, in an interview with Forbes. “An intern at the NSA could
find this in five minutes.”
Update: I got a nice email from Cody Brocious, the security researcher who discovered this. He wrote:
One thing I’d really like to clarify (which ExtremeTech still
hasn’t) is that it did take me months. In fact, the work I
released is the product of 3 years of reversing the entire system.
The simplicity of the result really hides the work that was done
to reach this point.
That said, thanks for covering this; anything that gets the word
out about the (lack of) security here is a Good Thing (TM).
The Woman Who Went to Every Country ★
Lovely piece by Alison Agosti for The Atlantic.
$13,238.86 Left in a NYC Taxi ★
“I gave him $500. It’s a lot more than I could afford, but a lot less than he deserved.”
Developers Dish on iCloud’s Challenges ★
More on the challenges iCloud presents for developers, from Lex Friedman at Macworld.
The Problem With iCloud ★
Both as a user and developer, I want iCloud to live up to its
promise. I hope it does soon. But the reality is that right now,
it isn’t there yet, and for developers, choosing between iCloud
and their own custom sync service is no easy choice.
It’s the iPad ★
Guy Podjarny, commenting on Jason Grigsby’s post analyzing the disparity between iOS and Android web browser usage stats:
On non-cellular networks, Mobile Safari accounts for ~67% of
mobile browser activity. iPad accounts for ~43% of that, and
iPhone/iPod-touch for the remaining 24%. Android WebKit’s share is
~18%. So iPhone still had a notable lead over Android on
non-cellular networks, but the gap isn’t as big if you don’t count
On cellular networks, Mobile Safari accounts for ~35% of mobile
browsing, and only ~7% of that comes from iPads. Android WebKit’s
share is ~38%, and less than 1% of that comes from tablets.
TPM PollTracker Mobile App ★
New free app from TPM. Josh Marshall writes:
And if you’re a real campaign junkie like me: real-time
notifications. Just choose the races you want to follow on the app
and you’ll get notified the moment a new poll from that race is
released. For me, finding out a day or even a few hours later that
a big presidential poll came out isn’t good enough. I want to know
right away. Like — gimme my crack! — right away.
I’ve been using it for a few days and it’s great.
Fraser Speirs on the Nexus 7 ★
Before I received the Nexus 7, I had expected to like the
hardware and hate the software. I thought it would be like
test-driving a Citroën car: great design ideas - can’t wait until
the Germans or Japanese put them in their cars. The reality was a
little more subtle.
More on the iOS and Android Mobile Browser Usage Disparity ★
Jason Grigsby, using data from Akamai, posits that the disparity in web browser usage between iOS and Android is almost entirely Wi-Fi traffic, and that the two are neck-and-neck on cellular networks. Fascinating, if accurate.
Update: A bunch of readers emailed to suggest the following explanation: there are a lot of iPod Touches and even more Wi-Fi-only iPads in active use, and there are very few Wi-Fi-only Android devices. Thus, iOS accounts for way more Wi-Fi traffic than Android.
The Carriers vs. Apple, Verizon Edition ★
Jeff Stern spent 40 minutes in a Verizon retail store:
- “They released the iPhone 4S because Steve Jobs died so they
just threw in a couple more features and pushed it out.”
- “Apple’s servers are really small and when you use Siri it
normally redirects to Google anyway.”
- “Every icon looks alike on your homescreen and it’s really hard
to find applications.”
All things I heard salespeople say in the 40 minutes I was
there. I’m certainly not an Apple fanboy. I was in your store to
buy an Android phone. But you’re really trying too hard to steer
people away from the iPhone and I’m not the only person that’s
More on Tablet Web Usage Numbers ★
Another explanation for the enormous gap between “smartphone marketshare” and “mobile OS web usage share” numbers: tablets. The iPad is enormously popular for web browsing; Android tablets not so much.
Mobile Browser Market Share ★
Mobile Safari’s lead over Android continues to grow in terms of mobile web browser market share — well over three times higher according to NetMarketshare’s numbers, 66 to 19 percent. Compare that with these new ComScore numbers:
Google Android continued to grow its share in the U.S. smartphone
market, accounting for 51.6 percent of smartphone subscribers,
while Apple captured 32.4 percent.
Not sure how to square the disparity here other than to assume that an awful lot of Android smartphones don’t really get used as smartphones.
The Business of Bond ★
Box office returns and budgets for the 22 official James Bond films. Be sure to flip the toggle to adjust for inflation.
About the Samsung F700 ★
Speaking of The Verge, last year Nilay Patel had a good piece on the Samsung F700 — the phone that Samsung wants to present as trial evidence of prior art that they were designing iPhone-style devices before the iPhone was announced:
Unfortunately, however, it’s also factually inaccurate: the F700
was announced in Feburary 2007 at Mobile World Congress, after the
iPhone was announced in January at MacWorld, and it’s actually a
chunky 16.4mm-thick slider QWERTY that looks appreciably different
than the iPhone. It also has a homescreen that’s quite different
than iOS — what you’re seeing above is the function menu.
(Remember, it was a dumbphone: no apps!) But that’s been hashed
out all over the place. I want to point out something else. Let’s
look at the F700 in a different context. Instead of looking at the
similarities, let’s try to highlight the differences.
‘Best for Business’ ★
The Verge scored an internal Lenovo document showing the advantages of their upcoming ThinkPad Tablet 2. Not sure what I like best about the checklist comparison: the spelling-checker red squiggles under “iPad” or “Enterprise Dock” as an advantage.
BGR: AT&T Retail Managers Order Staff to Slow iPhone Sales ★
Zach Epstein, writing for BGR:
Regional retail sales managers at AT&T have been instructing store
managers to pump the brakes on Apple’s iPhone. Instructions handed
down from corporate state that customers seeking smartphones at
AT&T retail stores should be steered away from Apple’s
iPhone and towards Android phones or Windows Phone handsets like
the Nokia Lumia 900 instead. BGR has confirmed the directive with
three independent sources. […]
AT&T contacted BGR via email and supplied the following statement:
The idea that we would steer any customer away from a particular
device couldn’t be more farfetched.
Farfetched, eh? Like this:
In 2010, AT&T Inc., then Apple’s exclusive carrier partner,
approached RIM about a plan to develop a touch-screen rival to the
iPhone, said two former RIM executives.
Amazon Instant Video App for iPad ★
Better than nothing, but as Seth Weintraub points out:
I can confirm that Airplay only works for audio in streaming video
so you can’t stream to an AppleTV, yet. Also, I am able to stream
my purchased movies but offline downloading doesn’t appear to be
working at the moment.
AirPlay streaming to Apple TV would be the number one thing I’d want to do with this app.
The Sony Device Samsung Claims Inspired Apple’s iPhone: Walkman NW-A1200 ★
It was not a phone at all, but a Walkman — the NW-A1200 — that
according to Businessweek represented for Sony a new, cleaner,
less cluttered design aesthetic. And what inspired that new
aesthetic? Of all things, according to the Sony designers, an
Apple wasn’t copying Sony, dear bloggers. Sony was copying Apple.
Looking forward to Eric Raymond’s follow-up.
Nokia Launches Nail Polish to Match the Pink Lumia 900 ★
Next step: turd polish.
Charlie Kindel on Microsoft, the Hardware Company ★
I know some of the people who drove the Xbox360 hardware design
and supply chain management. They are now war scarred and seasoned
experts. They are the type of people you want working on the next
big thing. None of them even knew about Surface until it was
announced. Typical Microsoft organizational silos.