“links” Category

Democrats Want to Control Insurance Premium Rates

Senator Harkin said he will move on legislation to control insurance rate premiums:

Fearing that health insurance premiums may shoot up in the next few years, Senate Democrats laid a foundation on Tuesday for federal regulation of rates, four weeks after President Obama signed a law intended to rein in soaring health costs.

The proposal he likes is for the Health and Human Services secretary to block any rate increases she finds “unreasonable.”

Why do they need to approve rate increases if their health care reform will reduce costs, as they said it would?

Why aren’t they trying to address the actual reasons for insurance rate increases, which are increases in health care costs?

Well, Feinstein answers that for us.

Mrs. Feinstein said her bill would close what she described as “an enormous loophole” in the new law. And she said health insurance should be regulated like a public utility.

“Water and power are essential for life,” Mrs. Feinstein said. “So they are heavily regulated, and rate increases must be approved. Health insurance is also vital for life. It too should be strictly regulated so that people can afford this basic need.”

It’s about control. Period. Nothing more, nothing less.

April 21st, 2010

Ed Catmull’s Talk

Scott Berkun has a video of Ed Catmull’s talk at the Economist event last month.

(Via Jason Kottke.)

April 21st, 2010

Sorted for iPad

Sorted is a new list/tasks application for the iPad. If your tasks needs aren’t complex, it’s certainly worth considering.

April 20th, 2010

Hitch Your Wagon to AAPL

Jason Snell has a great look at Apple’s incredible quarterly report.

Apple sold more iPhones this quarter than last quarter–and the last quarter includes holiday sales.

April 20th, 2010

MacBook Pro Dock

Henge Docks is a new MacBook Pro dock, and it looks like the best one available. It stands your MacBook up vertically and takes advantage of all of its ports.

It’s quite reasonably priced, too–the 13″ MacBook Pro dock is only $64.95.

April 20th, 2010

The iPad, the Kindle, and the Future of Books

The New Yorker has a great piece on the future of publishing, and how Apple and Amazon are changing it.

One section:

According to Grandinetti, publishers are asking the wrong questions. “The real competition here is not, in our view, between the hardcover book and the e-book,” he says. “TV, movies, Web browsing, video games are all competing for people’s valuable time. And if the book doesn’t compete we think that over time the industry will suffer. Look at the price points of digital goods in other media. I read a newspaper this morning online, and it didn’t cost me anything. Look at the price of rental movies. Look at the price of music. In a lot of respects, teaching a customer to pay ten dollars for a digital book is a great accomplishment.”

That’s the right question for publishers to be asking, but the answer given is wrong. Publishers think multimedia books are the answer. Books with video and other interactive elements.

Maybe that’s what some kind of books need–straight entertainment books–but that isn’t what will save books. If we turn all books into this, we won’t have books at all. Books, fundamentally, are about quiet, contemplative thought and imagination.

We need a convincing reading experience and means of handling books. We’re getting the former with the iPad and Kindle, but the latter hasn’t been solved yet. We can’t easily share ebooks or take notes in their margins, nor do we have the assurance that we can read that same book in fifty years.

A real book is timeless. If I read it, write my thoughts down on the page with a pen and sit it on my bookshelf, I can go back to it any time in the future and read it, along with my thoughts. I can hand them down to my children, and they can to their children. Books are, in that way, timeless. There’s no risk of file format obsolescence or server failure.

Those are the issues that need solved.

April 19th, 2010

The Next iPhone

Gizmodo has its hands on the next iPhone.

There’s little doubt this thing is real.

I won’t comment on how Gizmodo got it, because I don’t know anything more than everyone else. Gruber thinks Apple considers it stolen, as opposed to lost (which is the story Engadget initially reported). Gruber also said that Gizmodo purchased it from whoever got their hands on it. If both of those things are true, Gizmodo is or will be under tremendous pressure soon. I will say, though, that this doesn’t surprise me–Gizmodo is willing to do anything for a news exclusive.

On the device itself. The first photos of it from Engadget made it look more like a test bed device. The seams point to that. But in Gizmodo’s photos, you can tell the device is slightly thinner than a 3GS, or the same width. That would suggest this is the actual design Apple’s working on for the new iPhone.

I like the general look of it–the flat back especially–but the aluminum side doesn’t look right. This doesn’t fit in with Apple’s unibody designs of late. And the seams, especially, feel wrong. Those could be eliminated in the final version, though.

Oddly, I am less interested in the device than how it got out. This isn’t some elaborate marketing ploy by Apple–there’s too much risk involved that the public finds out it was a ploy. Apple would look terrible, and really, Apple doesn’t need the publicity from something like this.

Either someone did lose it, or someone stole it. Whoever found/stole it has been peddling it to technology news sites for the last week. Gruber characterized it as an open secret. What an odd story.

April 19th, 2010

Software as Show Business

Brent Simmons:

I can’t remember when it first dawned on me that app development is a form of show business.

April 18th, 2010

There’s Not A Lot of African-Americans. Have You Ever Felt Uncomfortable?

An NBC reporter asks an African-American at a tea party rally whether he feels uncomfortable because there aren’t a lot of African-Americans.

His answer is quite instructive.

And, by the way, what a ridiculous question. The assumption is that we can’t feel comfortable unless we’re surrounded by people of our same race. If you want to talk about racism, there you go.

April 16th, 2010

Obama Administration to Open Visitation Rights to Same-Sex Couples

The Obama administration will issue new rules requiring hospitals receiving Medicare or Medicaid funds to allow same-sex couples the same visitation rights as family members:

The White House announced the rule changes, which will also make it easier for gay men and lesbians to make medical decisions on behalf of their partners, in a memorandum released Thursday night. In it, the president said the new rules would affect any hospital that participates in Medicare or Medicaid, the government programs to cover the elderly and the poor.

The change doesn’t just pertain to same-sex couples; rather, it allows patients to designate visitors and who can make medical decisions for them if they are incapacitated.

It’s a good change. There’s no reason a partner in a same-sex relationship should be barred from visiting their partner in the hospital merely because the law doesn’t recognize their relationship.

If we are going to have Medicare and Medicaid, this is a perfectly valid and just rule.

April 16th, 2010

Be Nice

Brent Simmons’ advice to developers: be nice.

Another way of saying it is be genuine.

April 16th, 2010

“Apotheosis of Apple’s Design Philosophy”

Jason Snell on the iPad:

Is the iPad a good product? The answer is undeniably, enthusiastically yes. It’s a fantastic piece of hardware, inside and out, but more than that, it’s the apotheosis of Apple’s design philosophy, synthesizing cutting-edge hardware design with innovative system and application software into a single, unified product. Holding the iPad feels like you’re holding the future, and not in a hazy dream-like way, but in a I can’t believe I’m actually here kind of way.

That’s what the iPad is, and what it’s like to use it. Reading news on it with my breakfast, feeds during the day, and a book at night has made my life a little better. It unifies all of these things in a beautiful and satisfying way. There’s no doubt it’s the future.

April 15th, 2010

No Need for a Task Switcher

Lukas Mathis doesn’t find iPhone OS 4′s task switcher is necessary:

I’m not convinced that the task switcher needs to exist. Since apps in the task switcher aren’t really running, the task switcher isn’t so much a task switcher as it is a list of recently used apps. That might make some sense if you could actually see the state of the applications in the task switcher user interface, but all you see is a row of icons.

For this reason, he suspects users won’t ever use the task switcher.

I think that’s wrong. The task switcher is, effectively, a list of recently-used applications. That’s actually pretty useful, though; most of the time, I use a small list of applications and just switch between them. Switching between them by double-pressing the home button is a much easier than moving between several pages of applications. It’s like Command-Tab for the iPhone.

My only complaint, though, is giving up double-pressing the home button as a shortcut to my phone favorites. That’s something I use daily.

April 15th, 2010

Panic is Awesome

Just in case you didn’t know how great a company Panic is, here’s one more example.

April 14th, 2010

Jason Reitman Interview

Jason Reitman talks about directing in a lengthy interview.

I haven’t watched it all yet, but it’s started out well. Reitman, if you aren’t familiar with him, directed Thank You for Smoking, Juno and Up in the Air.

April 14th, 2010