I’m : a programmer, writer, podcaster, geek, and coffee enthusiast.

One of the problems with pageview billing is that it incentivizes publishers to distract you while reading.

Every time they distract you and get you to click on something else, they make money.

But if you’re simply reading their content, they make less.

So they take every possible opportunity to try to get you to read their stories, and then, once you try to do exactly that, they try to get you to abandon what you’re reading before you’ve gotten very far so you can go view something else before abandoning it and continuing the cycle.

You’re not readers to them. You’re “eyeballs”.

You’re not customers. You’re the product.

They really hate when you actually read their content. That’s what they’re communicating by distraction-oriented design: “We don’t respect you, and we’re trying to aggravate you as much as possible, but not quite enough that you’ll stop coming.”

The recording surface of a BD-R disc, a difficult but immensely satisfying photo to take.

I added a Blu-ray burner to my computer this week, now that they’ve come down to sane prices and I actually have a use for one.

Our photography (especially now that Tiff’s shooting professionally) generates very large volumes of RAW files from the 5D Mark II, which run about 25 MB each. A single wedding can easily result in 15 GB of photos after picking and postprocessing.

Optical media is excellent for long-term archival storage, especially if you migrate everything to a modern format once or twice per decade. But from such large files, even recordable DVDs at 4.7 or 8.5 marketing-GB can’t hold entire events.

Fortunately, Blu-ray raised the limits by packing 25 GB into each layer. At the time of writing, the 50 GB, double-layered discs are still a fairly prohibitive $16 each, but the single-layered 25 GB discs are down to $2-3, making them cheaper per GB than high-quality DVD+R discs — and, most significantly, they store five times as much data than DVDs in each case, sleeve, or whatever you’re keeping them in.

Installing it into my 2008 Mac Pro was, fortunately, uneventful after I got the required SATA and Molex-to-SATA-power cables (previously). I followed this guide to access the extra SATA ports and this guide to route the cable (steps 1-4 only). An 18” SATA cable with a right-angle connector on the motherboard end was just long enough.

Mac software support is better than I expected, but still immature.

Pipe Mac BlurayRipper Pro to MakeMKV to HandBrake, and you can convert1 a movie to a reasonably sized .M4V file for your laptop, iPhone, iPad!, or Apple TV. The result looks much better than DVD rips, even when sized down to fit within the Apple TV’s maximum supported resolution of 960x540. But using three different tools reminds me of the bad old days of DVD ripping and wastes a lot of time and space, so I’d love to see Mac BlurayRipper Pro or HandBrake incorporate the full functionality of converting a Blu-ray movie to an Apple-device-friendly H.264 MP4 file.

It’s much simpler for data discs, since Finder has native support for Blu-ray burning. It works exactly like CD and DVD burning: insert a blank disc, and you get a popup (“You have inserted a blank BD.”) asking what you’d like to do with it. Make a burn folder, or use the Burn option from a folder’s gear menu in 10.6, and it burns the disc like any other.

It’s a bit buggy: my first two discs were coasters. Finder had auto-selected 10X as the burn speed, so I went with it, but it hung2 halfway through burning each disc without explanation. The discs were labeled for 4X, so I went with that on the third try, and it worked. Normally, the disc, drive, and burning software coordinate to agree on the maximum burn speed supported by the media, but somebody’s doing it wrong here.

But given that no Mac has ever shipped with a Blu-ray drive, nor has a Blu-ray drive ever been offered as an option, this is still pretty great despite the bugs.

Including the “Verifying” reading pass, burning a mostly full 25 GB BD-R disc at 4X takes about 45 minutes. (Wikipedia says the actual burn was probably 24 minutes.)

This definitely isn’t for everyone, but if you’re one of the rare geeks who has a decent reason to get one and the knowledge and tolerance to install it and deal with its bugs, it’s a cool new toy.

  1. I haven’t tried to just burn the Blu-ray data back to a BD-R disc to play in Blu-ray players, so that may not work. I can’t get past the piracy guilt of that now, as a computing adult.

    I just like the ability to format-shift as I please. For instance, I recently ripped my entire DVD box set of The Wire, manually setting titles and episode numbers for each episode to form a proper “TV show” in iTunes, so we could watch it on the Apple TV without constantly switching discs, navigating menus, and forgetting which episode we’re on. It’s such a nicer experience that I plan to do the same thing with every TV series that we own on DVD.

    Now that I know that I can do this with Blu-ray discs as well, I’ll start buying them. Previously, the lack of this ability was holding me back. I don’t want to buy a movie or TV show that I can only play on a physical disc in my PS3. ↩︎

  2. It was fully responsive and was even able to cancel the burn, but the progress bar stopped advancing at around 46% and got stuck for over a half hour each time, despite the drive spinning loudly at full speed the entire time, before I gave up and canceled them. Curiously, nothing relevant was logged to the system console during any part of the burn. ↩︎

Recent interviews

Some Tumblr, some Instapaper, and a lot of iPad.

By Amit Gupta:

But one day, pretty soon, you’ll realize that you haven’t used your laptop in days. That you tend to grab your iPad first whenever you need to visit a website or answer email. That your laptop never leaves your desk anymore.

It starts tomorrow.

Great post.

[Flash 10 is required to watch video.]

The W. 14th St. Apple Store in Manhattan, just now.

This guy is waiting on the iPad line… with a Kindle DX.

This is only the second DX I’ve ever seen in the wild. What a great place to see it.

Disorganized iPad impressions

I love it.

My iPhone now feels like a tiny, cramped iPad.

I’m impressed with the quality of the first wave of apps, especially the games.

3 million iPads sold in 2010 is too low of an estimate.

I can type more quickly than I thought when I set it in my lap in landscape mode. I even comfortably wrote this blog post on it in the back seat of a car.

The iPad lends itself to gathering around a table and playing multiplayer games or using collaborative apps. Flight Control HD is a lot of fun when you have assistance.

Safari is great, especially since, unlike the iPhone, the screen is large enough to avoid the need for special “mobile” layouts. I love browsing Tumblr’s regular Dashboard with it.

I use landscape orientation a lot more than I do on the iPhone, partially because…

I don’t like that the split-view interface structure (Mail, Notes) makes the left/”master” pane available only in a popover in portrait orientation. Having such frequently accessed functionality hidden in a popover feels like a bad hack and requires a lot of excess tapping, and I find that I dislike using these applications in portrait because of it. (I used this split-view structure in Instapaper, but my popover/left/”master” view only contains the folder list, which is rarely accessed.)

I’m not crazy about the black Apple case. Its rubber exterior makes it difficult to slide next to anything else in a bag, the flap near the center spine is awkward, and it’s difficult to remove the iPad from it. For the first time ever for an electronic device, I think I may want a sleeve.

Not having its own cellular data connectivity has already been inconvenient a few times. I’m going the Verizon MiFi route, but only because I’m in New York where AT&T’s data service is barely usable, and I occasionally tether a laptop. If you live somewhere with good AT&T service and don’t need tethering, you should seriously consider the 3G-equipped iPad.

A Verizon iPad would be a dream, but there’s no chance they’d ever offer the pricing and flexibility that AT&T gave Apple for this.

The screen’s viewing angle and color reproduction are excellent, and is more vivid than nearly every LCD I’ve ever seen except the high-end iMac panels.

It’s always covered in fingerprints. This drives me nuts. My preferred anti-glare film, Power Support’s, isn’t yet available for the iPad, and I’m not sure it would be practical on a screen this size anyway.

The glass screen’s reflectivity is occasionally a problem. Applications with dark backgrounds, including Instapaper’s dark mode, are unusable except in very low light. The reflections are less noticeable when running bright applications.

The speaker is impressively loud, especially when the iPad is resting flat on a table. It sounds better and louder than the built-in speakers in every 13” Apple laptop, but not quite as good as the 15” MacBook Pro’s.

After briefly trying some, I’m not using any pixel-doubled iPhone apps. I’m going iPad-native or nothing. I suspect that a lot of people will make the same choice, so I strongly advise that developers get iPad-native apps out as quickly as possible (although I recognize that you don’t need me to tell you that). It’s a wide-open land grab right now.

There are a lot of gaps in the app lineup for great developers to fill.

This is a big deal.

iBooks and private APIs

iBooks’ use of tons1 of private APIs is frustrating on a few levels, the biggest that it makes all third-party reading-related apps second-class citizens.

I won’t be able to offer some features that iBooks has (such as a true brightness control), but my customers will expect them, making my app inferior to Apple’s in key areas.

This app’s undocumented API use wouldn’t pass the App Store submission process, yet developers need to compete with it for App Store attention. One of the great potential failures of an app-review system is inconsistent or unfair enforcement of the rules.

Apple’s specially privileged, private-framework-using iPhone apps were relatively few, but their first-party area of influence on the iPad has just spread to e-readers, word processors, spreadsheets, and presentation tools: four major markets in which competitors may be at a severe disadvantage by not being able to do the same things as Apple’s alternatives if Apple chooses to play this card there.2

This has been problematic in our industry before, and we’re going to start seeing the same arguments against Apple — rightfully so — as they move into more application markets if they choose to exert unfair advantages.

That’s not the kind of development or software-market environment I want to see, as it would be a waste of a great platform and great potential. Ideally, Apple should only publish first-party App Store apps that would be approved if they were submitted by a third party, and they should therefore use no undocumented or prohibited APIs.

I don’t think Apple would ever implement such a policy for all first-party App Store apps, but I’d love to be proven wrong.

  1. Proof (thanks). Some of these are understandably exclusive to iBooks (iTunesStore, iTunesStoreUI), but I’d love to be able to do some of their WebKit tricks (JavaScriptCore, WebCore, WebKit) and offer a hardware brightness control (GraphicsServices). ↩︎

  2. I’ve heard from numerous people that the teams producing Pages, Keynote, and Numbers made a point of not using any private APIs. If so, this is commendable. I haven’t yet used any of those apps long enough to spot any telltale signs to the contrary, whereas in iBooks, they’re very obvious. And, unfortunately, iBooks is the app whose feature-parity unreachability will be the biggest problem for me. ↩︎

More ideas than time: Last week’s news

Most news outlets, including TV news shows and networks, newspapers, news websites, and blogs are targeted at news junkies: they never want to miss a story, and they want to be the first to report it to you.

If you look back on these stories even one week later, the majority of them seem unimportant or redundant in retrospect. And if you stop consuming the firehose for a few days or more, you’re lost — there are very few publications that give a general overview of what has happened, especially when venturing outside of mainstream front-page news and into a subsection, such as technology news.

I want last week’s news, but only what I need to know, and only if it has proven to have relevance beyond the day it was published.

Tell me an overview of what happened in a given field, like technology, but with the hindsight of a week to sleep on it and evaluate what really matters. The delay also provides more time for investigation and analysis to reduce blind speculation, promote thoughtful writing, and encourage big-picture perspective.

Don’t give me any “breaking” information or up-to-the-minute stories. Mentioning any event that happened less than 7 days ago is strictly prohibited.

The result would likely have far less content than most news sites. Some weeks may not have any content at all. And that’s OK.

Someday, maybe I’ll start this site for technology news. But I bet I’ll never get to it, and I’d love for someone else to beat me to it.

(Previous idea: Logarithmic calendar view.)

Have you ever had that fantasy of taking everything out of your house and just starting over? Get a moving truck and guys to take out everything except your coffee pot and your bed and just say, ‘Okay, as I need this over the next five days, bring it in. If I don’t need it after five days, take it to Goodwill.’ That’s kind of how I felt about the design.

Merlin Mann on web design

What makes me optimistic about iPad sales is just how delightful it is to use one. That’s a factor that makes sales truly viral: people who didn’t plan to buy it tend to change their minds as soon as they try one.

No feature checklist will ever convey user delight.

iPad case woes

Marc LaFountain:

I’ve recently had a false start with Apple’s iPad Case. I cannot believe Steve Jobs greenlit this thing. The tacky/sticky case surface is a magnet for dust, dirt, and (most unfortunately) cat hair. Putting the iPad in the case and taking it back out feels akin to performing surgery. The bottom of the case in landscape mode becomes the inside of the case in portrait mode, which gets stuff on the iPad screen. And, while the case is a huge pleasure to use at an angle in landscape mode, it is ungainly and uncomfortable to use in portrait mode. I would also love a case that works with Apple’s iPad Dock and am disappointed to see Apple’s own case doesn’t work with Apple’s own dock.

Jeff Rock:

That case is less of a “false start” and more of a “turd”. For some reason I thought that Apple’s own case would be functionally superior to the third-party efforts but after seeing Marc’s Apple case in real life, I was wrong. […]

I hate cases. What I want isn’t a case so much as a slip. Just something that keeps the iPad covered and clean while it’s traveling. This isn’t about protection so much as transportation and subtlety. It’s the same reason I don’t strap a bra on my car. Sure, the hood will get nicked but I’ll take the dings over making a BMW look like it’s on its way to an S&M convention.

I also hate cases, and Apple’s iPad case is disappointing, to say the least. The rubbery surface not only picks up every bit of dust and dirt that it goes near, as Marc said, but it also fights you with friction if you’re trying to slide it into a bag pocket with other items — one of the only reasons why I wanted a case for the iPad at all.

Within its first 15 minutes of use, my case looked embarrassingly and permanently dirty. (Much like my iPad’s screen, but that’s another story.) Removing the iPad from the case is so difficult that my initial assumption that I’d mostly use the case for transportation, removing the iPad when I used it most of the time, proved so impractical that I just leave the case on all the time. (Like a car bra.)

I feel like an idiot for having spent $42.46 on this, and Apple should be embarrassed that this case brazenly displays their logo.

I, like Jeff, hate cases. My phone and laptop live in dedicated pockets, so they don’t need cases. The ideal solution, just like a laptop, is to carry it in a bag that gives it a dedicated pocket. Ideally, that pocket has soft felt or microfiber cloth on the innermost1 side to help wipe fingerprints from the front of the screen.

But for devices in this size range — too big for a pocket, but small enough that they’ll be carried alone frequently and won’t always have dedicated pockets in bags — a case is often needed in practice, even for case-haters like us. I absolutely love my Cole Haan Kindle case.

I think an iPad case is a good idea, but definitely not this one. Since it’s nice to take it out during use, a sleeve is probably smarter than a flip-case, but the prop-up-ability for the iPad is helpful for landscape typing, and only flip-cases can reasonably do that.

Oh, the dust…

Ideally, I’d love to see a high-quality leather flip-case, with basic prop-up-ability, that the iPad can be quickly inserted into and removed from. I don’t think it exists yet. Let me know when I become wrong about that.

  1. You do face your gadgets screen-side-in when you put them in pockets or bags, right? Always do that. That way, when you run into the corner of a table with an iPhone in your pocket, you’re denting the back of it at worst, not cracking the screen.

    You should have seen the back of my old Palm Vx. ↩︎

In order to get 10 hours of battery life, the entire iPad (including display) has to pull less than 2.5 Watts on average.

iFixit. Wow. I hadn’t bothered to do the math in my head, so I didn’t realize how impressive that was until now. That’s insane.

If we didn’t have proof right here in front of us, I’d insist that 2.5W total power consumption for a computer with a brightly backlit 9” LCD while playing videos and browsing the web was impossible.

Steve likes the case.

I’m embarrassed to actually use the iPad for anything. I’m leaving it under my seat because I don’t want to attract any attention. This reminds me a lot of when I bought my iPhone. When the iPhone first came out they were so rare and exotic for the six months or so that every time I’d pull it out people would be like, ‘Woah! Is that an iPhone?!’ And so using my iPhone in public felt like bragging.

Shawn Blanc. I have the same issue. I won’t take out my iPad on the train unless another nearby passenger has one.

New MacBook Pr—OH LOOK, AN IPAD!

This morning, Apple updated the MacBook Pro line with new internal components, including new processors, new graphics chips, a higher-resolution screen option on the 15” (finally), and bigger batteries.

This is usually significant news worthy of a homepage takeover for a week. But today, as Marc noted, the Apple homepage looks like this:

The new notebooks are relegated to a small promo unit along the bottom of the huge iPad graphic.

The message is clear: Macs aren’t Apple’s focus right now. This will be sad news to a lot of people, but I’m quite happy about it.

Computers are boring.

New applications can improve our lives. New form factors can be revolutionary. New networks and services can increase communication and enrich relationships. But the steady progress of CPU power and storage in personal computers doesn’t do much for me anymore. Today’s MacBook Pro encodes video faster than yesterday’s MacBook Pro, but how many people encode video? Today’s MacBook Pro plays high-end 3D games faster than yesterday’s MacBook Pro, but how many Apple buyers play high-end 3D games?

By comparison, to how many people might the iPad — a brand new form factor with a brand new OS, new interface paradigms, and new applications — be relevant and exciting?

Mac OS X 10.6, Snow Leopard, was released last fall. Nearly everything I do on my computer was unaffected by its changes in a user-noticeable way. There were very few compelling reasons for most people to upgrade.

My Mac Pro (admittedly a ridiculously awesome computer) is two years old. I have absolutely no reason to buy a new one as long as it keeps working. The Mac Pro lineup will be updated to the 6-core Westmere-series Xeons any day now, but I don’t need them, because my computer is fast enough already. And if I start hitting speed bottlenecks in the next year or two, they’re more likely to be alleviated by upgrading to SSDs, not replacing the whole computer.

If your CPU power dropped by 75% for an hour every day, how long would it take you to notice?

How much of what you do on your $1500–3000 computer could be accomplished on a $500 iPad?

John Gruber, last week:

Mac OS X 10.7 development continues, but with a reduced team and an unknown schedule.

I read this and wasn’t disappointed or scared at all. I’m very happy with 10.6. I was very happy with 10.5.

What do you want out of 10.7?

I use desktop computers for many hours every day. They are my profession, my hobby, and my leisure. But the pace of their software innovation that’s relevant to my everyday use has dramatically slowed. It’s not a bad thing. On the contrary, it’s great that I don’t need to constantly update and upgrade everything to maintain a stable, full-featured computing environment. This is what mature, stable products and industries are like. They work, and they’re built on decades of progress, but modern advances are infrequent and incremental.

Mobile and tablet computing are immature and unstable. Major revolutions still occur frequently. We still haven’t figured out how this stuff all works or what we can do with it. Mobile computing just started. Mobile computing is, today, where portable computing was in 1983.

Desk computers1 aren’t going away anytime soon. I’d be surprised if they went away during our lifetimes.

A desk computer is a general-purpose tool. That’s what makes them so great: they can do a massive variety of tasks, even if they weren’t designed to do them when they were made. People will always need them.

But specialized tools will continue to eat away subsets of what desk computers do, and now that desk computers have reached long-term maturity, the specialized tools are far more interesting to most people.

  1. I don’t know if “desk computers” is a real term. Now it is. It’s what you’d expect: the unified category to include today’s desktops and laptops, and any obvious relatives. Computers that work best, or exclusively, at a desk. Laptops, iMacs, Dell crapboxes. Nearly anything that you’d call a “computer” today. I’d even include netbooks and any tablet-shaped laptop that runs Windows Tablet PC Edition. They’re what most people have been calling “personal computers”, but that’s a terrible term.

    Not included: smartphones, iPad, JooJoo (LOL), Nokia’s tablet things, iPods touch, and probably most future devices based on Chrome OS, Windows Series 7 Phone Series Windows, or iPhone OS. ↩︎

Calorie-counting works

Marc LaFountain on the iPad’s weight:

[…] But, if I could get an iPad with a seven- or eight-hour battery instead of a ten-hour battery that was a few ounces lighter, I’d make that trade in a heartbeat. I’d rather have less operating time on a device I enjoy more than more operating time on a device I enjoy less.

I agree that I’d love for the iPad to be a bit lighter. But iFixit’s teardown doesn’t provide much hope:

Here’s the weight breakdown: Aluminum back: 138 grams, Battery: 148 grams, LCD: 153 grams, Glass (and frame): 193 grams, Speaker: 17 grams, Main board: 21 grams, Everything else: 27 grams

Total: 697 grams

In other words, in descending weight order, approximately:

So where can weight be meaningfully saved? It’s probably safe to assume that the 9% components are stuck at about that amount, as is the 22% LCD screen. That leaves these to play with:

If Apple reduced the battery’s mass (and, presumably, capacity) by 20%, that only reduces the iPad’s total weight by 4% — probably not enough to be worth the capacity reduction. Even cutting the battery capacity and weight in half, which would cause negative reviews and reduce its usefulness significantly, would only save 11% of the overall weight. That 11% would help, but it’s definitely not worth the capacity loss.

So the battery should probably stay the same. That leaves:

As much as I hate glass displays, I have to admit that a matte-finish LCD is a terrible idea for a touch screen, especially at this size. Rigid glass is needed for strength, scratch resistance, and easy cleaning. It’s going to be pretty difficult to save any weight from the glass without compromising the iPad’s durability and practicality.

That leaves us the aluminum back panel. A plastic panel of the same size would probably be lighter, but by how much? Half? That’s still only a 10% overall weight reduction, and it would likely make the iPad feel cheap and flimsy.

I’m sure Apple’s industrial design staff battled with these issues for a long time before deciding on the iPad’s form factor, and they probably came to the same conclusions: while this is heavier than the ideal weight, there’s very little that can realistically be removed without fatal compromises.

The only sure way to ensure that no bank becomes too big to fail is to make sure no bank is too big.

Robert Reich 

This is so obscene that it’s probably illegal in Alabama.

Are you nuts?

The opening of Steve Jobs’ email response to a nutty email.

I think this all the time with some of the crazy emails I get, but I rarely have the balls to respond with anything but subtle resentment.

Welcome back, Dave.

Damn, Gizmodo.

Did you really need to publicly shame the poor guy with his full name and photo?

Don’t you think he feels bad enough already?

Did that really add anything to the story?

You just took a dark time in this man’s life — caused only by his negligence, not malice — and made it much worse. For what reason? Did you make anyone’s lives better by having done that?

Fun facts about Eyjafjallajökull

Put This On:

Put This On, Episode 2: Shoes

iTunes / Vimeo / YouTube
Clothing Credits
Funding Credits
Related Posts

This is the debut of Instapaper’s first ad! (At the end. But watch the show. It’s good. Make a “Watch Later” folder on Instapaper and save this there if you don’t have 10 minutes to watch it now.)

And it’s made by Jesse Thorn and Adam Lisagor, who are both awesome.

So, by process of elimination, if you want a burrito on the low range of the calorie scale (420), you will be ordering a flour tortilla, filled with vegetarian black beans. No salsa. No sour cream. No rice. No cheese. Can that even be considered a burrito? Has anybody ordered a burrito like that? Ever?

Midtown Lunch on Chipotle’s “Calorie Range” claims (via Jared).

I’ve always found this helpful at Chipotle. My low-calorie order: Bowl, fajita vegetables, rice, black beans, tomato salsa, corn salsa — total of 370 calories so far — and then I ask for sour cream on the side so I can manually add a very light coating (about 50 calories’ worth).

iPhone OS requirements

Instapaper Pro became a universal iPhone/iPad app with version 2.2.2. I thought that making it universal was obvious: my customers don’t need to pay again for it on the iPad, nobody accidentally buys the iPhone version on the iPad and gets a bad experience, and I get the benefits of only managing one app. Win-win.

Except for one minor issue: the documentation for the SDK was poorly worded and seemed to say that universal iPhone/iPad apps required OS 3.1.3, the most recent version, on the iPhone. I was previously supporting everything from OS 3.0 forward, so this would reduce compatibility.

For all iPod touch owners who already had iPhone OS 3.0, and for all iPhone owners, the 3.1.3 update is free and is nearly three months old. iTunes is aggressive about updates, regularly reminding every device’s owner to update to the latest version until they do. I knew that requiring 3.1.3 would be inconvenient for some people, but I figured that I was offsetting that by the huge value added by making it universal, and I clearly stated in the “What’s new in this version” release notes — well above the “More…” cutoff in iTunes — that this version required 3.1.3.

There were two problems that I didn’t foresee:

In a normal software environment, it would be easy to look at these issues and say that they’re not my problem. But there are a number of factors unique to the iPhone and App Store platform which complicate it:

  1. I can’t give refunds.
  2. App updates are pushed heavily in iTunes and on the device.
  3. That “Update All” button is tempting and widely used. As a result, not updating one particular app indefinitely is a real pain, and most customers are likely to forget and accidentally hit “Update All” at least once.
  4. Once an app has been updated, there’s no good way to get the old version back.2
  5. While the iPhone App Store interface won’t update to an app version that your phone can’t run, iTunes will. And on its next sync, it just deletes any apps from the device whose most recent version, as downloaded by iTunes, isn’t compatible with the device’s OS version.

Effectively, the environment takes something that shouldn’t be my problem and makes it my problem.

So I get emails and Twitter messages every day from people because Instapaper “disappeared” from their phone (see #5), or because I’m requiring a version of the OS that they can’t jailbreak.

for some mysterious reason, it no longer is on my iphone and everytime i try to install it back on through iTunes by checking the checkbox again, it disappears during the sync.

My Pro version is gone from my springboard even though I paid for it. I am on 3.1.2. No plans to update to 3.1.3. Can I get version 2.2.1 (or whichever was the latest build to work with my FW)? Otherwise I am out the money.

I paid $5 for an app just have the developer decide that it wasn’t backward compatible with a “.” release on an Operating System??? I’m sorry but that is unacceptable. I’ve been in Enterprise software development for years and this is a serious mistake. You have a solid application, why ruin it with poor support? Why exactly is 3.1.2 no longer supported???

@instapaper Yay, all we have left to do is getting it to support my iPhone again! It’s been, what, 18 days?

iTunes overwrote the previous version so I have no way of getting Instapaper back without installing the bogus 3.1.3 upgrade (which I will not do).

Most of us don’t run 3.1.3 — not even Steve Jobs. Is there a concrete reason why you require 3.1.3 for Instapaper?

I was initially angry about these, resenting the attitude of entitlement and self-imposed helplessness. But I later realized that it’s not entirely their fault: they bought my app, the update doesn’t work for them, and iTunes makes it difficult, if not impossible, to revert to the previous version.

Fortunately, the aforementioned poor wording of the universal-app documentation was later clarified, and you can actually build universal iPhone/iPad apps against a minimum of iPhone OS 3.0. This is how I built my 2.2.3 update, currently in review and due out soon.

But what happens in the future if I need to upgrade the baseline requirement to use a great new API or maintain compatibility with a new device, and it can’t be jailbroken?

  1. Or it’s a difficult procedure to jailbreak, or something — I don’t care about the details. The problem, whatever the reason, is that a lot of jailbreakers refuse to upgrade to 3.1.3. ↩︎

  2. Geeks can pull an old version of an app’s .ipa file from Time Machine, or presumably hack it out of something else. But for most people, there’s effectively no way to get it back. ↩︎

As Seen on TV - a tribute to doing it wrong:

Whenever a TV product commercial plays I bust a gut during the parts where they show us what we’re doing wrong and why we need the product.

This is my tribute to the hilarious work the actors in these infomercials do.

By kickintheheadcomic.

Serving Gzip-compressed pages with PHP

I’ve had nothing but problems with PHP’s built in zlib.output_compression feature: the most common issue is that it holds connections open for a very long time, introducing long delays (and largely negating the point).

But using mod_deflate in Apache achieves the same thing with none of the negatives, as far as I’ve seen. In your VirtualHost definition:

AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE text/html text/css text/javascript

And you can expand that text/html list to a lot of different content-types. I usually add text/plain, text/xml, and application/rss+xml.

I’ve been using this solidly for years, but I forgot to add it to my SSL VirtualHost definition on Instapaper with the new server until last night, and it makes a huge difference in load times.

Throwing this into Google, for whatever it’s worth.

The idea that humans, for all their technological might, could be put in their place by this volcano—this obscure, unpronounceable, C-list volcano—was strangely satisfying, even thrilling.

After the volcano: Earthly powers

We expect fax machines to be so unreliable that it took us until today to definitively test ours and realize that its phone line can’t successfully place any calls.

Nothing has been successfully sent by or received from it for an unknown duration of at least two weeks.

By Topherchris, internet genius.


Apple’s feeling threatened by Android, as they should be. So they’re systematically targeting and eliminating major reasons why someone would choose Android over iPhone.

But they haven’t yet hit the biggest one: availability on different U.S. carriers, specifically a CDMA edition for Verizon1.

Of all of today’s Verizon Android buyers, how many of them made that choice for the network first and the device second? And, by extension, for how many of them was Android a compromise rather than a choice? What will they do if there’s a Verizon iPhone in the future?

This is why I think part2 of Android’s popularity in the U.S. is only a temporary bubble that Apple can choose to burst whenever they’re willing and able to launch a Verizon iPhone.

But if they don’t do it soon — preferably, within the next 6-12 months — all of the app lock-in and software availability and and interface familiarity that helps keep people on iPhones today is going to start working against them, entrenching the Android fans too deeply to be easily swayed to the iPhone.

There’s no question that Apple knows this and has planned for it. The only question is when we’ll start seeing the results of that plan.3

The most interesting part of the stolen N90 iPhone wasn’t revealed: whether it contained a chip from Qualcomm, micro-SIM notwithstanding.

AT&T recently started rolling out Android phones (the Motorola Backflip now, then the Dell Something Plastic Probably With Blue LEDs later). Assuming any of them are worth buying, this will be the first time we can witness true competition between Android and iPhone without a carrier bias. How well will they sell?

The popularity of AT&T Android phones relative to AT&T iPhones is probably an indicator, good or bad, of where Android’s popularity will be if a Verizon iPhone happens soon.

Google has to know that, too. And I’m sure they realize that the odds don’t look great for them in that scenario today. I’m especially interested in seeing what they do.

  1. And hopefully Sprint as well. I bet Sprint would do a lot to be the exclusive U.S. CDMA iPhone carrier, but it wouldn’t be enough to make it worthwhile to Apple if there was any hope at all of working out a deal with Verizon. ↩︎

  2. Android is pretty decent, so it’s earning a lot of true fans as well. And the true fans are probably there to stay. But there’s no denying that many of its users are voting against AT&T, not for Android, the same way many of John Kerry’s supporters were supportive because of who he wasn’t. ↩︎

  3. If ever. Verizon, like Apple, is very bullheaded and inflexible about enough aspects of their devices that it wouldn’t be a huge surprise if they never came to an agreement. ↩︎

Back To My Mac hostnames with dots in your username

If you have MobileMe, you can access your Back To My Mac-enabled computers via SFTP and SSH (if enabled in Sharing) with this hostname:

…where computer is the hostname and username is your MobileMe username (before the “@”).

But if your hostname or username contains a dot or other special character that isn’t normally permitted in DNS, it becomes tricky. You can see how the hostname is encoded by opening Terminal and selecting FileNew Remote Connection…, then Secure File Transfer (sftp), then the target hostname under Server, and see how it encodes it on the command line in the bottom text field.1

If your MobileMe username was and your computer was called John's iMac, it would show this:

sftp -oPort=22 Johns-iMac.john\

The backslash isn’t a valid DNS character. Leaving it in, double-escaping it, omitting it, or replacing with a literal period all don’t work for most common commands like ssh, ping, or dig.

Because it’s actually an IPv6 address.

Disclaimer: I know absolutely nothing about IPv6.

So it actually does work with IPv6-enabled commands:

ssh -6 'Johns-iMac.john\'
ping6 'Johns-iMac.john\'

If you enable Remote Login (SSH) and set up the SSH connection with password-less keys, you can get your computer’s external IP and avoid the need for DDNS for certain uses (like many of mine).

HOME_IP=`ssh -6 'Johns-iMac.john\' \
    curl -s ''`

I’ll be shocked if more than zero people who see this can actually use this information, but it has been eluding me for months and I finally figured it out.

  1. Thanks to Cabel Sasser for this tip. His company just released Transmit 4, a ridiculously good file-transfer client. ↩︎


The telephone was an aberration in human development. It was a 70 year or so period where for some reason humans decided it was socially acceptable to ring a loud bell in someone else’s life and they were expected to come running, like dogs. This was the equivalent of thinking it was okay to walk into someone’s living room and start shouting. It was never okay.

Rick Webb about this (via toldorknown)

The ad delusion

Have you ever met any of those brainwashed advertising people who believe that regular people like their ads and see them as content and are dying to see more?

Whoever added these arrows to AdSense is one of those people.

Someone involved with this truly believed that enough people want to see even more of these incredibly relevant ads on the blogs they’re trying to read to make it worth the overhead of being in one of the most widespread interfaces on the internet.

You can’t really blame them. A portion of Google’s business depends on the delusion that their “AdSense for Content” ads (the ones you see on blogs, not Google’s search results) are good most of the time. The rest of the internet knows that they’re usually crap, but at least Google’s employees and leaders need to believe in them.

Similarly, whenever Facebook or Google introduce a privacy-invading (or at least alarming) new feature, they will almost never make it opt-out by default. Doing so would be an implicit admission that most people really wouldn’t enable this if given the choice. Their business growth depends on them never admitting this, and likely not believing it themselves.

As long as we maintain a profile and actively use these types of services, we’ll need to be on high alert if we want to maintain reasonable privacy standards, going in and adjusting the settings to disable any creepy new features whenever they’re added. It’s a lot of work, and it’s not always going to be effective — not every creepy feature will have a setting to disable it.

The alternative is to delete our profiles and stop using these services, but do enough of us really value our privacy enough to go without them?


And that’s why they’ll continue to do what they do.

Flash was created during the PC era – for PCs and mice. … But the mobile era is about low power devices, touch interfaces and open web standards – all areas where Flash falls short.

Steve Jobs: Thoughts on Flash


Adobe should refocus their iPhone-deployment goal on the future of Flash:

Establish Flash (the tool) as the premier tool for creating rich HTML5 content, the same way Photoshop is the premier tool for image manipulation and Illustrator is the premier tool for vector drawing. Adobe is in the tools business, first and foremost.

Make Flash (the tool) cross-compile between Flash Player binaries and HTML5/Javascript. Then use Flash Player as a legacy compatibility layer for browsers that don’t fully support the necessary standards, including Internet Explorer and Firefox.

Of course, I expect this to happen right after Apple allows iPhones to install apps from outside of the App Store. So… never. But it’s nice to wish.