“links” Category

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

Eco-Flip for iPad

Marware’s Eco-Flip iPad case looks like a great option.

It stands the iPad up both in landscape and portrait orientation.

Thanks to Jorge for pointing it out.

April 13th, 2010

Apple to Initially Produce Ads

There’s word that Apple will initially produce ads for their iAd service.

This makes sense. A key element of iAd is producing ads that are high quality and worth looking at. Apple needs to establish quality expectations for the service immediately.

April 13th, 2010

Brent Simmons NetNewsWire for iPad

Brent Simmons comments on NetNewsWire for iPad:

We’re not giving out the actual numbers, but I will tell you this, and I think this is very cool. The iPad app, within five days, made us more money than the iPhone app has in its existence over the last six months or something. And it’s only priced double, $9.99 versus $4.99.

I’m not surprised. NetNewsWire for iPad is great. In landscape orientation, it is the best feed reading experience I’ve ever had.

April 13th, 2010

Microsoft Kin UI

Engadget has a good set of Microsoft Kin UI walkthrough videos. (Ignore the voiceover.)

I’m not sure what Microsoft is thinking here. With Windows Mobile 7, they had a chance to create a single mobile OS to develop. But these Kin devices use a completely different OS that’s closer to a feature phone than smart phone. The two OSes have different philosophies. Why fragment your offerings so much? Why confuse customers with two separate platforms?

In any case, watching these videos makes my head hurt. I clearly am not the phone’s target customer, because the last thing I want or need is a phone that makes “social” sites like Facebook the center of my life. I don’t want to share everything I do with the web, and I definitely do not want to see what everyone else is doing all of the time.

I suppose I might be reaching the point where I’m out of touch with what the next generation wants to do. I don’t see “sharing” everything I do in status updates and photos on Facebook or other sites as worth my time. I would rather be doing something productive–reading, writing–something that creates value for me or others. Reading what everyone else is up to is a waste of time at best.

I don’t follow people on Twitter because I want to know what they’re doing at any given moment (although with some people, that’s occasionally interesting). I follow them because they’re contributing something, somehow, and I want to see what they’re working on, or what they’re interested in. This is useful to me–I’ve learned about a lot of great things I wouldn’t otherwise be exposed to through people I follow on Twitter. But beyond instant gratification and entertainment, what is the value of using Facebook or Twitter in the way the Kin is made for?

I don’t think there’s any value. Instead, it’s fostering a culture of cheap thrills and entertainment. Or, rather, it’s made for that culture.

April 12th, 2010

Google Working on a Tablet

Google is working on their own tablet device.

If you’re wondering why Apple created iAd, this is it. Google is going for Apple’s throat with Android.

April 12th, 2010

Designing for iPad

Information Architects on designing for the iPad:

Having the same static thick paper stacks left and right in your e-reader application, on the first as well as on the last page is not just visually wrong, is also confusing; it feels wrong and it is wrong. It’s kitsch.

April 12th, 2010

Paul Carr Thinks the iPad Will Kill Reading

Paul Carr thinks the iPad will destroy long-form reading. He first argues that its LCD screen is poor for reading:

Let’s finally put to rest the myth that the iPad is a good way to read books – it isn’t. Without e-ink – who’d have thunk it? – your eyes get tired after a few pages. You find yourself wishing you could print out the rest of the book and read it properly, away from the screen. Even the way that Apple displays books – in their Delicious Library rip-off way – suggests that they consider books to be just another kind of app. Something to fire up, play with for a couple of minutes and then swap out for the next five minutes of Flight Control.

This hasn’t been my experience. I’ve been reading War of the Worlds each night since last Saturday, and I haven’t suffered any eye strain. I read for one to two hours a night on the iPad, and the device certainly hasn’t been a problem. My biggest problem is the same one I have while reading printed books in bed–I tend to fall asleep quickly. The screen just hasn’t been a problem.1

Carr’s second argument is that beause the iPad has so many functions (web browsing, email, Twitter, games), we can’t possibly become immersed in a book:

Even for those who love books enough to persevere with reading without e-ink will soon face another problem with the awesomeness of the iPad. The device does so many different things so well that there’s a constant urge when you’re using one to do something else. Two or three pages into a book, you’re already wondering whether you’ve got new mail, or whether anyone has atted you on Twitter. One of the joys of reading is to be able to shut yourself away from distractions and lose yourself in a book. When the book itself is packed with distractions, the whole experience is compromised.

I’ve lost myself in reading on the iPad, so I think this is more Carr grasping for reasons to dismiss the iPad than an actual problem.

Yes, all of those things are only a few taps away. But the reason I can still become fully immersed in a book on the iPad, just like with a real book, is because none of those things are apparent on the screen while reading. Unlike the desktop, when I’m reading a book on the iPad, I don’t see anything to remind me that I can check my email, or Twitter, or browse the web–all I see is a book.

Carr is being alarmist. There certainly are problems with reading on the iPad, screen resolution and device weight being the largest ones. But from my (admittedly brief) time with the device so far, reading on it is an absolute joy.

  1. I read Cormac McCarthy’s The Road and Ayn Rand’s Anthem on my iPhone in their entirety. The screen isn’t an issue. []
April 11th, 2010