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17 Sep 14:37

Ohrn Images: Tribes

by pricetags

Stopped for a few minutes near the Olympic Village.  Who should ride past, but members of three different clans of that happy tribe of people who ride bicycles.   First, the (probably) tourists on folders. 



Here’s Mr. “Been Shopping.”



And finally, a rising clan among the tribe. An experienced rider (check the dentist’s mirror mounted on the well-fitted helmet, the every-day clothes, and the battery and motor drive:  it’s an e-bike).


17 Sep 13:02

Chrome is broken

Yesterday I finally got so fed up with breakage in the clipboard and debugger in Chrome that I went public with that frustration. I guess it was possible that it was "just me," but it was confirmed by other users. These crucial features, one for programmers, and the other for everyone, are broken. Sometimes you can clear the problem by restarting the browser. Other times, even that won't do.

There apparently is a workaround for the debugger problem.

Remember when Chrome launched? We were told it was an inherently more reliable design because each tab was in its own thread, so you could have one thread go down and it wouldn't take the browser with it (an infuriating feature of Safari on iOS, btw, it's the crashiest browser I've ever used).

As with many products, they devoted the resources to make it work when they wanted to take the market. Their best programmers, with lots of focus -- in this case, Firefox, I guess. They win, and then we, the users, deal with the same old breakage, and no one home to fix it. (Firefox was no better, their disregard for stability was the reason I split.)

This is a lot like what Comcast et al do with connectivity. They have a monopoly, so why should they care. Or how Microsoft blew it with Internet Explorer.

Computer users tend to think crashes are their fault, they're doing something wrong, so they live with broken tools. It would be great if the people at Google had enough pride to keep their browser functioning anyway. I can't imagine they accept that features like the clipboard and debugger are broken. Are they broken in the versions they use?

Also it has been suggested that I switch to Canary, the "bleeding-edge" (Google's term) version of Chrome. That seems like very bad advice. If the "stable" version is this badly broken, why would you expect users of a browser named after a dead bird, one that died in an experiment, to fare any better.

One more thing: The horde of reporters is around for the launch, with universal praise for the new king of the hill. They're almost never around to report the messes that are left behind after a product achieves market dominance.

17 Sep 12:35

iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus review roundup

by Daniel Bader

As fans wake up to the prospect of downloading iOS 8 later today, and the ability to purchase the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus later this week, we thought, in lieu of our reviews (coming soon!) we’d round up some thoughts from other sites.

In short, the phones are a hit. While bigger screen sizes necessitate various usability compromises, the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus don’t stray too far from Apple’s core mentality of a sanguine relationship between hardware, software and ecosystem. Some reviewers had misgivings about the size of the 5.5-inch iPhone 6 Plus, and others lamented the omission of optical image stabilization from the 4.7-inch iPhone 6, but for the most part Apple appears to have another hit (or two) on its hands.


Darrell Etherington of TechCrunch liked both devices, and considers the smaller iPhone 6 “the best smartphone for your money,” but was surprised by how much he enjoyed using the larger iPhone 6 Plus.

“The iPhone 6 is still the best smartphone for your money in my opinion, owing mostly to the fact that the majority of people are going to feel most comfortable using a smaller device as their daily companion of choice. But the iPhone 6 Plus surprised me: I went into this review expecting to find it was a niche gadget, reserved for those seeking the absolute top-of-the-line, convenience be damned. Instead, I found myself getting strangely comfortable with a phone I still find difficult to use one-handed. In short, the 6 is my favorite current smartphone, but the 6 Plus is its closest competition.”


Re/code’s Walt Mossberg echoes others by claiming the iPhone 6 is “the best smartphone you can buy.” He felt the aluminum finish on the back was a bit too slippery, but found battery life excellent, performance exemplary and the app ecosystem unmatched.

“The iPhone 6 is a great upgrade for current iPhone owners, or for anyone, really. It manages to provide a much larger display in a phone that’s still small enough to handle easily. It’s my recommendation for the best smartphone you can buy.”

Re/code’s Lauren Goode found herself falling for the iPhone 6 Plus despite misgivings, after having poor experiences with Android-based phablets like the Samsung Galaxy Note. She notes that the camera ties the whole package together, and is one of the best on the market.

“Apple has designed a giant phone that offers a few key large-screen features without overwhelming the senses, and it has a pretty good camera, to boot.”

The Verge

David Pierce of The Verge calls the iPhone 6 “one of the best smartphones on the market.” If you didn’t love the iPhone before, other than its larger size this one isn’t going to change your mind. But the camera is still great, and the larger screen lets you do more and see more.

“For a variety of reasons, from the camera to the app ecosystem to the hardware itself, the iPhone 6 is one of the best smartphones on the market. Maybe even the best. But it’s still an iPhone. The same thing Apple’s been making for seven years. A fantastically good iPhone, but an iPhone through and through.”

Nilay Patel thinks the iPhone 6 Plus will replace his iPad mini with Retina and loves the larger battery and optical image stabilization. He also thinks that the larger iPhone will eventually cannibalize the smaller iPad and force Apple to create the laptop replacement it’s been claiming to be capable.

“With the right software changes, I could basically use an iPhone 6 Plus all day long, for everything from sending messages to editing documents to watching videos. A do-everything phone like the 6 Plus would eventually allow Apple to push the iPad even further towards becoming the true laptop replacement it was always meant to be.”

New York Times

Molly Wood of the New York Times says the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus “aren’t a big-screen slam-dunk,” but concedes that Apple’s lead in the developer race is what’s going to sustain them long-term.

“The slim new iPhones aren’t a big-screen slam-dunk, but they work well, as we have come to expect from Apple. Ultimately, it’s what’s on the inside that keeps them just in front of their competitors.”

The Globe and Mail

Seamus Bellamy of The Globe and Mail concedes that both the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus are not the must-have upgrades of years past, but, if Canadians can stomach the considerably higher prices than their U.S. counterparts, they will love the devices.

“Many current iPhone owners might not feel the need to upgrade their existing hardware, but those keen to invest in these latest iterations of the iPhone will no doubt be satisfied with the power and versatility they have to offer.”


Mashable’s Lance Ulanoff thinks that the iPhone 6’s design is a little pedestrian, and admits that iOS 8 doesn’t do as much as the Android versions on devices like Samsung’s Galaxy S5, but it’s still “the most elegant and effective smartphone on the market.”

“There are other smartphones that do some of the things an iPhone 6 can do. Others, like the Samsung Galaxy S5 do more. It and the Amazon Fire Phone actually watch you and react to your gaze. Even so, none put it all together in quite the same way. I do miss the edges of the old iPhone design, but Apple’s iPhone 6 is, for my $200, the most elegant and effective smartphone on the market.

He also likes the larger iPhone 6 Plus, especially with its larger battery, saying, “If you must have a phablet, the Apple iPhone 6 Plus is a powerful and attractive choice.”

17 Sep 12:16

What I Got Wrong About Apple Watch

by Ben Thompson

While I stand by last week’s opinion that the Watch presentation was poor, I’ve somehow, at least in my little corner of the Internet, become the face of people who don’t believe in Apple Watch at all. The biggest problem with that view is that I’m actually a big believer in the category, having written favorably about watches and the potential for Apple specifically here, here, and here; I even tried to buy a Pebble!1 I’m tired of how the phone pulls me away from my family, and time and notifications seemed like more than enough justification for this watch wearer. I presumed the Apple Watch would be similar, but significantly better executed with superior industrial design, plus a few additional killer features that made you just have to have one. In fact, that’s exactly how I suggested that Tim Cook should have introduced the Watch.

I must admit, though, even as I posted that article and recorded an episode of Exponent that was probably more critical of the Watch itself than I intended,2 there was a part of me that wondered if I were being Tony Fadell to Tim-Cook-and-company’s Scott Forstall. From a 2011 BusinessWeek profile of the then Senior Vice-President of iOS:

Around 2005, Jobs faced a crucial decision. Should he give the task of developing the [iPhone's] software to the team that built the iPod, which wanted to build a Linux-based system? Or should he entrust the project to the engineers who had revitalized the software foundation of the Macintosh? In other words, should he shrink the Mac, which would be an epic feat of engineering, or enlarge the iPod? Jobs preferred the former option, since he would then have a mobile operating system he could customize for the many gizmos then on Apple’s drawing board. Rather than pick an approach right away, however, Jobs pitted [Forstall and Fadell] against each other in a bake-off.

Forstall, who was head of the OS X project, obviously won, leading to the creation of a device that Blackberry executives didn’t think was possible. As a former Blackberry employee recounted:

RIM had a complete internal panic when Apple unveiled the iPhone in 2007, a former employee revealed this weekend. The BlackBerry maker is now known to have held multiple all-hands meetings on January 10 that year, a day after the iPhone was on stage, and to have made outlandish claims about its features. Apple was effectively accused of lying as it was supposedly impossible that a device could have such a large touchscreen but still get a usable lifespan away from a power outlet.

The iPhone “couldn’t do what [Apple was] demonstrating without an insanely power hungry processor, it must have terrible battery life,” Shacknews poster Kentor heard from his former colleagues of the time. “Imagine their surprise [at RIM] when they disassembled an iPhone for the first time and found that the phone was battery with a tiny logic board strapped to it.”

For my part, I’ve certainly been operating under the assumption that the wrist is not yet ready for full blown computing, which is why I thought the “iPod” version of a Watch needed to come first. From a piece I wrote in March:

Imagine a device that initially launches with limited functionality and is dependent on an iPhone (similar to the iPod, or the first iPhone). Perhaps it monitors fitness and health, and slowly, year-by-year, adds additional functionality. More importantly, assume that Moore’s Law continues, batteries make a leap forward, flexible displays improve, etc. Suddenly, instead of a phone that uses surrounding screens, like the iPhone does in the car and the living room, why might not our wrist project to a dumb screen (with a phone form-factor) in our pocket as well? Imagine all of our computing life, on our wrist, ready to project a context-appropriate UI to whichever screen is at hand. Moreover, by being with us, it’s a perfect wallet as well.

To be clear, this is certainly years off…

What, though, if it’s not? What if it is, once again, a “battery with a tiny logic board strapped to it”?

The S1 computer-on-a-chip at the heart of Apple Watch

The S1 computer-on-a-chip at the heart of Apple Watch

And what if that logic board, – which Apple calls the S1 – is even more ahead of the industry than last year’s couldn’t-possibly-have-existed 64-bit A7? What if Apple skipped the iPod-stage of wearables and went straight to the iPhone stage?

John Gruber captured this possibility in Apple Watch: Initial Thoughts and Observations:

Apple Watch’s third-party integration is clearly deeper than just showing notifications from apps on your iPhone. And though it depends upon a tethered connection with your phone for Internet access, it’s far more functional while out of range of your phone than any smartwatch I’ve seen to date. It’s a full iOS computer. If it actually doesn’t do much more, or allow much more, than what they demonstrated on stage last week, I am indeed going to be deeply disappointed, and I’ll be concerned about the entire direction of the company as a whole. But I get the impression that they’ve only shown us the tip of the functional iceberg, simply because they wanted to reveal the hardware — particularly the digital crown — on their own terms. The software they can keep secret longer, because it doesn’t enter the hands of the Asian supply chain.3

I still believe that Tim Cook missed an important opportunity to explain why the Watch existed, but, after an avalanche of tweets, emails, Gruber’s exceptionally insightful piece, and most of all, Apple’s incredible track record, I’m slowly coming around to the position that maybe, just maybe, I ought not be bullish on the Watch simply because I’m bullish on the category, but rather because it’s actually the exact product necessary to make the category succeed.

One tweet I found particularly persuasive was this one:

@monkbent 2. After living with the Pebble on my wrist for ~1 year, I wish it could do what the Apple Watch does. Glad they swing for fences.

— pobregizmo (@pobregizmo) September 16, 2014

This makes the Pebble sound a lot like a smartphone circa 2006. The thing is, though, the iPhone was never targeted at 2006-era smartphone users: it was targeted at everyone, and that meant it had to destroy our expectations of what a smartphone was in order to build a new one that happened to look exactly like an iPhone. Similarly, to be the sort of tentpole product Cook promised the Watch would be it must target more than current watch wearers: it must be a product so good that non watch-wearers will put something on their wrists, put up with nightly charging, spend hundreds or thousands of dollars every few years, and all the other sorts of behavior that no one thought any rational phone buyer would tolerate just eight years ago. In other words, it must swing for the fences, just like Apple seems to have done.

Interestingly, I suspect this reading of the Apple Watch’s capabilities suggests that from Apple’s perspective the true new iPhone is the Plus. Numerous reviews have noted that the Plus is really more of a truly portable computer than it is a phone, the only tradeoff being its reduced portability. It is, in other words, the evolutionary iPad, but with guaranteed cellular connectivity and pocketable in a pinch. That leaves room for a device where portability is paramount, and computing only needs to be good enough given those constraints. It leaves room for an Apple Watch.

One final note: if I am (now) correct, and Apple has created something that most observers – including myself – didn’t think was possible in 2015, well, then this really is a Tim Cook breakthrough. The idea of a watch as a full-blown computer is not novel, but to create the future five years early in three different editions with all kinds of unique bands – and a buying experience to match – is something only Apple and their once-in-a-lifetime operational genius of a CEO could do, if indeed that is what they have done.

  1. Unfortunately I was defeated by their refusal to accept a U.S. credit card for a non-U.S. shipment (a nice example of the tradeoff between security and user experience, I might note)
  2. I am a passionate person, and that sometimes gets me in trouble on podcasts in particular
  3. The Wall Street Journal had a piece today about how exactly those leaks happen

The post What I Got Wrong About Apple Watch appeared first on stratechery by Ben Thompson.

17 Sep 11:07

Microsoft’s Bluetooth keyboard for iOS and Android tablets landing in Canada November 15th

by Jane McEntegart

One of the most interesting accessories announced IFA Berlin earlier this month was Logitech’s K480, a keyboard for mobile devices that is capable of connecting to three devices at once via Bluetooth 3.0 and switching between each at the turn of a dial. Now, Microsoft has a similar device.

The very imaginatively named Universal Mobile Keyboard is capable of connecting to up to three devices at once and offers compatibility with iOS (versions 6.0 and above), Android (versions 4.0 and above), and Windows tablets running Windows 8 or Windows RT. No mention of Windows Phone compatibility, unfortunately, so Microsoft’s own smartphone users are left out in the cold this time around.

Switching between devices is done via a slider with handy Windows/Android/iOS markers. It’s also got an integrated stand and the keyboard is detachable from this part of the device, so you don’t have to use it as an all-in-one keyboard dock if you don’t want to.

The Universal Mobile Keyboard will priced at $70 when it launches in the United States, however, here in Canada you can expect to pay a little more. Microsoft says it should be available in Canadian stores by November 15th and will be priced at $79.99.



17 Sep 10:14

JavaScript for Automation Release Notes

by Rui Carmo
Click on the image to zoom in

There goes AppleScript.

17 Sep 08:00

Steve Wheeler - September 17, Riyadh - Notes

by Stephen Downes
The Mayflower Steps. When we talk about the future, we step out into the unknown.

Macy's, in New York. Immigrants couldn't imagine so many people, buildings so large. They wondered what the machine was in the wall that changed people. It was like magic.

We look at technology and we glorify it. But we shouldn't; it's just another tool. We highlight the technology, but it should be invisible. We make it magic, and it's just another tool.

A telephone. Can you imagine someone seeing a telephone for the first time? Bell said, "I imagine a day when every town in America will have a telephone." Now we have them in our pocket. Bell could not imagine minituaization, and satellites.

When we predict the future, we can only see through the narrow vision of today.

Charging stations for mobile phones. These are things Bell could not have imagined.

The 'Learning in 2000' picture - turning the crank and pumping knowledge straight into the minds of the students. So - again - predictions we make may be very different in 20 or 30 years time.

We need to think of disruptive technology. Kaku: It is impossible to predict the future with great accuracy.

Laptop development. In 25 years we've come along way.

Three things in the future:

- learning will become increasingly mobile
- technology and learning will become more personal
- also, they will become more social

Where have we come from? 1840 - the introduction of the penny postal system in the UK, and also started the first distance education, a shorthand course.

1968 - Stanford Instructional TV network - one of the first nation-wide systems.

1970 - Eindhoven - the Phillips (something) - a museum for technology. There: the first closed circuit TV system. The first demonstration of videoconferencing. Now we can use Facetime.

1976: reel-to-reel tape recorder, hand-cranked duplicator (we called them Gestetners - SD). Films. VCR tapes.

We will use our technology to take our learning back into the world again.

1982. Dot matrix printer. Space Invaders. Ceefax. Finally - touch-screen, gesture based computing, satellites, etc. It's a common sight to see people using hand held devices at conferences.

Tim Berners-Lee: "This is for everyone." The internet is a truly democratic system.

LMSs: BB, D2L, Sharepoint, Moodle.

But we're in danger if we follow the old pathways. There is no point using technology if we use old practices. Illich: we should turn our funnels into learnin webs. They are connected in multiple directions. It is no longer possible, expedient, to simply give a lecture to rows and rows of people. The lecture has its place, but there must be more. Students want to converse with them, and each other.

Personal learning environments. (PLE diagram)

MOOC. cMOOC, xMOOC. I want to introduce 'embedded MOOC'. Traditional classes - MOOCs are founded and recommended. (aka 'wrapped MOOC' - SD).

Where are we going?
1989 - the future is multimedia
1999 - the future is the web - turned out to be correct.

Larry Downes: everything technology touches grows exponentially.

5 generations of mobile technology: from the book (required literacy, was very rare, then became commonplace) to laptop to Kindle Reader etc.

(Failed mobile phone joke. ;) )

What happens in an internet minute? (Diagram from Intel) - 61K hours of music, etc.

Personal Learning Networks - exponential growth of connections. Theories derived from the idea of connectivity. "I store my knowledge in my friends". Knowledge is changing; it is no longer immutable. It is new all the time. I just need to know where to find it when I need it.

Paragogy - the idea that we teach each other. And distributed cognition and the 'hive mind'.

Barak Obama just before being elected, in Berlin. There's a sea of people. They're there because they know it's historic. They're all capturing the moment, with phones, even a laptop. They're live-streaming. This is the future of education. They take notes now by grabbing and capturing images.

Seymour Papert: the best learning takes place when the learner takes charge. They learn by doing. Piaget, 1950. Picture of two students learning in Doha. We hearn by making (constructionism) - Papert, 1960. Picture of students making a video. They blog and they tweet.

A family in 1950, in America, watching a B&W TV program. It's like a tribe, around a fire. There were only 1 or 2 channels. They were all in th same place; it was a common experience. 2000s; Wii are family. Same common experience, but with a device in our hands.

Gsmes-based learning will be important. Csikszentmihaluyi - the idea of flow - raising the level of challenge as skills increase, to avoid boredom and anxiety. Vygotsky - zone of proximal development (what I can learn on my own). But in addition to 'knowledgable others' we should add 'technology and tools'. Put these together and it may be possible to expand that flow channel.

David Jonassen - computers as mind tools - engaging ourselves in critical thinking. Learning 2.0 - architecture of participation. Learners are more self-directed, more equipped to participate.

Learning 3.0 - four key elements:
- distributed (cloud) computing

(big graph comparing 1.0, 2.0, 3.0)
3.0 - active,social,community; rhizoonomy; connectivist; community is the curriculum; user and machine-generated content; etc.

Future learning topology: distributed computing system; inside it will be 3D visualization and interaction, smart mobile technology, collaborative intelligent filtering. (Infrastructure, interface, tools, interaction)

Nova Spivak: graph, degree of social connectivity, degree of information connectivity. High social, high information = Web x.0 - the metaweb.

John W. Gardner - "All too often we are giving people cut flowers when we should be teachning them how to grow plants."

17 Sep 06:30

1 Invite Per Person

by Richard Millington

Back in 2009, we stumbled across an interesting tactic for growing a community. 

We closed the community and instead allowed each member of the community to invite 1 person per month. 

If every member did this, the community would grow by 100% every month. 

We found around 30% to 45% of members used their monthly invites. 

30% to 45% growth per month is quite impressive. Faster than most communities. The exclusivity and being allowed to invite just 1 friend/colleague per month encouraged people to actually to find someone they wanted in the community. They suddenly had an incentive to do it (or the invite would expire). 

We made no technical changes to ensure they could only invite 1 (if they cheated and invite more, the community grows quicker). 

We've tried it a few times since. Sometimes it works, sometimes not. 

But it's usually worth trying. 

On October 29th to 30th, the world's top 250 community professionals are going to SPRINT in San Francisco. Will you be one of them?

17 Sep 06:00

Apple Hit Successive Sixes

by Stephen Fry



Since January 1984 when I bought my first Apple Macintosh, through the dark late 80s and mid 90s when the company had all but 3% of the personal computer market, I have developed the thickest of skins when it comes to Apple-haters.

I could fill this entire article with links to ancient, now embarrassing, sneers: “what’s the point of an iPod?”; “the iPhone is too large”; “huh, the iPad is nothing but a big iPhone?” (right, and a swimming pool is nothing but a big bath). “How disgraceful are the working conditions in which Apple devices are manufactured!” — oddly leaving out Samsung, Sony, Dell, LG, HTC and all the other companies who have their devices made in the same factories and have, unlike Apple, been much less transparent about it and failed to abandon so many of the controversial materials – beryllium most recently – that Apple have now removed from their supply chain. I welcome, love, reverence and adore Android, Windows and any other mobile operating system. The richer the eco-system, the better for all. I’ve never thought anyone pretentious for owning a BlackBerry or an LG Curve, but when it comes to Apple,  it’s open season. “Baaah you’re all sheep, or “Huh, far more Samsungs are sold anyway!” Can’t have it both ways, darlings…

Apple has often innovated, but being first to market is not the point or focus of the corporation: the iPod wasn’t the first mp3 player, iPhones came late to multi-tasking — “we wanted to wait until we had the best smartphone multi-tasking system in the world,” Steve Jobs said on unveiling iOS 4 in 2010, and no one can doubt his team achieved that goal.

Regarding the dimensions, many Android owners will point out how late the Cupertino giant has come to the size game. But once again, Apple wanted to wait until they got the perfect merger of optical, CPU, battery life, resolution, materials and OS workarounds. Being first isn’t the point, being the best is.


The 6 is 4.7in measured diagonally, the 6 Plus is 5.5in, yet both are lighter than the 5s: more high res, more powerful, and offer equal or better battery life in all metrics. Personal fitness is becoming a big issue: the addition of a barometer into the phones allows the new bundled Health app to distinguish height, climbs and stairs as well as all the other sporty parameters.

These phones, in silver, gold or “space grey”, are utterly gorgeous objects in the hand and to the eye. They are released with the superb iOS 8 – an operating system leap forward for the iPhone and iPad, blessedly backwardly compatible all the way down to the 4S.

How right Apple have been proved in delaying needless incorporation of a Near Field Communication radio into their devices until this year: NFC has been in BlackBerries and other phones for two years but I haven’t met anyone who uses the feature yet in any sensible way. Now, deals have been struck, the Apple Pay technology is ready to work and to revolutionise retail (US only thus far – which needs it, they don’t even have chip and PIN!), but Europe and the world soon.

The matchless design and innovation team led by Sir Jony Ive — who has head-hunted to Apple the brilliant Australian designer Marc Newson (over whom at the launch I spilled some horrible green wheatgrass and spirulina drink that would otherwise have gone all over P Diddy) — have produced two devices of absolutely exquisite dimensions, heft and feel. I have played with both for a week and cannot decide which I would keep.

Under the bonnet they each offer a ravishing Retina HD display. The Plus has more pixels and the (real) advantage of optical rather than digital camera shake correction as well as full HD video allowing a devastatingly cool 720p slowmo that will make Matrix directors of us all. At 5 inches corner to corner the 6 Plus is, to my large hands, absolutely ideal, but then for most users I would recommend the 6. I now type faster on each, which I wouldn’t have thought possible. The open API keyboard word prediction table can only improve as companies like Britain’s Swiftkey, so hugely successful already on Android, add an iOS app complete with their already compendious idiolect dictionaries, which will allow you to text or type as if you are Dickens or Doctors Johnson or Dre. There’s barely space for me to talk about the amazing new VoLTE option, allowing you to hold a conversation using wireless at home or office and continue seamlessly as you move out of WiFi range allowing the mobile network (EE in the UK’s case) to take over without a blip.


It only needs for me to leave with the confident prediction that these phones will prove through sales, as I believe them to be, the best and most beautiful mobile telecom technology ever yet produced. So sue me if if I’m proved wrong. Oh and, of course, Watch this space…

Stephen x

17 Sep 06:08

16 GB - The Result of Unlimited Data

by mobilesociety

3-16GB-during-vacationWhat happens when I get a SIM card with unlimited and unthrottled Internet access while I'm on vacation? Right, I have to find out if it's really unlimited. A hypothetical scenario? No, not at all, Austrian operator 'Drei' (Hutchison Three) offers unlimited and unthrottled HSPA Internet access on their prepaid SIM cards for 18 Euros a month (without contract). Perfect for my recent vacation in Austria. The result: After pretty much behaving like at home with a fixed line connection, i.e. no moderation as far as video and audio streaming was concerned, I ended up transferring 16 gigabytes of data during my vacation over their 3G network. I have to admit I didn't check their max throughput but it was sufficient for video streaming and it never felt slow in the first place. Very nice!

17 Sep 03:50

Timeline Algorithms

I’ve never stopped thinking like an RSS reader developer. A habit of nine years is difficult to shake.

For many years what I wanted to do was develop an algorithm for the reader that would pay attention to what you pay attention to, so that it could bring to the top things likely to be most important to you.

I never got that far, which I regretted for years.

But now I wonder if that would have been the right thing to do. These days I hear complaints that you don’t see everything on Facebook from the people you’ve chosen to follow. And Twitter seems to be moving toward an algorithm-based timeline too, which has people (including me) upset.

At the same time, people do like things like muting features and lists. So it’s not that they’re against filters and organization — it’s that they don’t want these imposed from the outside.

These days, were I writing an RSS reader (I’m not), I think I’d skip developing an algorithm based on the user’s attention — instead, I’d focus on making it really easy to filter out the things you don’t care about, and to highlight the things you’re more likely to want to see.

And not try to come up with some algorithm which would have the effect of bugging people and making them feel like they were missing things. Since they would be.

17 Sep 03:45

Microsoft – Glaring Obsolescence

by windsorr

RFM AvatarSmall






Microsoft is still missing the opportunity created by laptop obsolescence.

  • The Surface Pro 3 is far more than a laptop replacement but so far Microsoft has totally failed to market this device to its full potential (see here).
  • I am of the opinion that the laptop form factor is now obsolete as there is a far better alternative.
  • Having the keyboard physically separate from the screen enables a far better user experience in terms of use, comfort and flexibility.
  • The only reason to attach the keyboard to the screen has been to create enough space for the components and battery needed to enable a full power portable computing experience.
  • This also created a form factor that is easy to carry around but it offers a cramped, unpleasant and inferior computing experience.
  • This compromise is no longer required but the device makers and users are so entrenched in their thinking that they have yet to see what is before them.
  • Having the keyboard physically attached to the screen is no longer required and this opens the door to whole new use case which I call “Portable Desktop”.
  • However, the laptop has been universal standard for over 20 years meaning that a huge marketing effort is required to make users realise that the world has changed.
  • With a Surface Pro 3, the ingenious Arc Touch Mouse (see here) and superb Logitech Tablet Keyboard (see here), I effectively have a desktop computer that weighs the same as a laptop and is just as easy to carry around.
  • Not a single person to whom I have demonstrated the “Portable Desktop” has indicated that they would rather stick with the laptop form factor.
  • Microsoft’s R&D team is starting to realise the potential of this form factor as it has just launched a wireless keyboard that can handle everything including an Android phone or tablet, iPhone or iPad and Windows Phone to full Windows devices. (see here).
  • Critically, the stand can be separated from the keyboard which now gives Microsoft the potential to launch the two products together as an alternative to the pretty awful Type Cover.
  • In my travels, I use the type cover as a screen protector when it is in my bag and as a mouse mat when working on a glass surface.
  • However Microsoft’s marketing department seems to be completely oblivious to the potential for this product and in its 1 minute marketing video for the new keyboard it shows the stand separated from the keyboard for a total of 3 seconds.
  • Furthermore, all of the marketing materials for the Surface Pro 3 show the device being used with the Surface Type Cover most of the time.
  • Microsoft does not seem to have considered the potential that this device offers and until it puts its weight behind educating the users that something better is available, volumes are likely to remain low.
  • I think that the substantial usability improvement over the laptop is critical to convincing users that this is a form factor that is worth paying up for because it is not a cheap product.
  • This form factor offers so much more than a MacBook Air can ever do but Microsoft is continues to hide that fact from its users.
  • I am certain that Apple is far from ignorant of this issue.
17 Sep 00:00

iOS 8 compatibility issue with camera upload

by Chris Lee

UPDATE: Thursday, Sept. 18, 11:20 AM PT

We’ve updated the Dropbox and Carousel apps to prevent ‘duplicate’ photo uploads, and resolved most app crash issues users were experiencing on iOS 8. Please install now:

If you continue to experience issues after installing this update, please leave us a comment below, contact us on Twitter @dropbox_support, or submit a ticket at Thanks for your patience and understanding.



UPDATE: Wednesday, Sept. 17, 9:30 PM PT

Some iOS 8 users who have downloaded the latest versions of Dropbox and Carousel might be experiencing ‘duplicate’ uploads of their photos. These ‘duplicates’ are backed up versions of thumbnails generated by Apple’s iCloud My Photo Stream and are being recognized as unique images by Dropbox.

For now, you can stop the ‘duplicate’ backups in one of two ways:

  • Disable Dropbox and Carousel photo backup.
  • Disable Apple’s iCloud My Photo Stream.

We’re also investigating reports that a small number of iOS 8 users are experiencing crashes at launch.

We are working on a full fix for both issues and we’ll update you here when it’s available. Thanks for your continued patience.



UPDATE: Wednesday, Sept. 17,  11:00 AM PT

We’ve resolved the iOS 8 compatibility issue that prevents Dropbox and Carousel from properly backing up your photos and videos.

You’ll need to download the latest version of our apps to get the fix. This will ensure automatic backups of photos and videos work on iOS 8.

Thanks again for your patience.



Original Post

We’ve discovered that Apple’s new iOS 8 introduces a compatibility issue that may prevent Dropbox and Carousel from properly uploading your photos and videos. This means that only the contents of your “Recently Added” album will upload automatically.

If you upgrade to iOS 8, don’t delete photos or videos from your devices until you’re sure that your stuff has backed up to Dropbox. Please visit our Help Center for additional details on how to keep your stuff safe.

To avoid any confusion over what’s been backed up, we’ve pushed a Dropbox and Carousel update that temporarily suspends automatic backup of photos and videos.

We’re in touch with Apple and are working together on a solution. We’ll keep you updated here and on Twitter (@dropbox_support) as soon as a full fix is ready. Thanks for your patience, and sorry for the inconvenience.

17 Sep 01:14

Apple publishes guide for Android users switching to iOS

by Jane McEntegart

One of the biggest deterrents for switching from one platform to another is the process of itself. Once you’ve established yourself and your information in one ecosystem, the prospect of moving all of your information to a competing platform that is incompatible with many of your favourite apps is pretty daunting.

For the Apples and Googles of the world, this is a double edged sword. On the one hand, users don’t ever want to leave because they can’t face the idea of a manual switch over. On the other hand, it’s harder to lure users away from competing ecosystems because of that mindset. Ahead of the launch of the new iPhones, Apple is hoping to make the process of switching away from Android easier than ever.

The company just published a whole new section to its support pages detailing the easiest path to iOS for Android users. It includes tips and links to apps that will help you move your mail, contacts, photos, videos, music, documents and apps. Apple suggests using apps like Copy My Data or PhotoSync for moving your photos and videos from Android to iOS, and Android File Transfer for music, ebooks, and PDFs.

This is all information that you could have found elsewhere on the web long before now, but Apple has never featured this kind of information, with direct links to apps on the Google Play Store, on its website before. Google has its own vast library of support documents and forums but it doesn’t have anything as concise or user friendly as the guide Apple published today.

16 Sep 21:29

Convince your boss to use Clojure

Clojure has been successfully adopted by many companies. There are many resources available by people who did the hard work of introducing Clojure to their team.

16 Sep 21:39

Ergo chair buying advice

by tychay

A friend asks:

I’m in the market for an office chair. Does anyone use a backless “saddle stool” or anything else that’s more ergonomic?

I can’t comment on backless models, because I’m apparently an “OG Normcore” circa. 1980’s, and not into fads that didn’t survive that wonderful decade.

  1. If your a person who actually uses your brain, you’ll probably be sitting down, not standing. And if so, you’ll be spending a lot of your time there. A chair is a big deal!
  2. People are probably going to recommend the one they use.
  3. Good ergo chairs can run $1k+ and can last decades—mine is 14 years old and counting.
  4. It’s really a personal preference.

Granted, I’m know that the standing desk religious nuts claim old Benjamin as one of their own, but before you plunk 10 down, you might want to try them out before buying. In San Francisco, there are vendors for all of the top brands accessible.

The top three are:

  • Herman Miller: Invented the category with the Aeron. The Latest models are the Embody and Mirra.
  • Steelcase: The world’s largest office furniture company followed Herman Miller with the Leap. The notable ones are the Think and the Gesture. Steelcase chairs are known to be highly complex and highly customizeable (You’ll need to read the user manual to get the sitting right).
  • Humanscale: The dark horse of the elite ergonomic office chair world. Famous for the Freedom, and now the Diffrient chairs.

FYI, As I mentioned two years ago, at home I use a Humanscale Freedom that I purchased from their first store in San Jose in 2000. When I got the cushions on my chair replaced from visiting the downtown SF Humanscale offices in 2011, Marie got a Humanscale Diffrient World Chair in custom colors—another benefit of visiting the store: more color options than the website.

DSC_8400 - Version 2
Some things have changed, but a lot is still the same
16 Sep 21:19

Vancouver: The Highrise Myth – 2

by pricetags

Frances Bula has jumped into the deep end of the pool on one of the city’s hottest arguments – the scale of new development – both in her blog (Does Vancouver have to be a high-rise condo city? Or are there other choices?) and in Vancouver magazine (“The Middle Ground“).

 … it is puzzling to me that Vancouver, a new city, an innovative city, seems to have invented only two distinctive types of housing: the podium-and-point-tower high-rise and the Vancouver Special single-family house in all its increasingly awful permutations. (The older ones are actually starting to look like Greek temples, with their clean and simple lines.) …

And we have a strange gap in our architectural ecology: the small mid-rise.

I posted some numbers last week in “The Highrise Myth” to make the case that mid-rise is mainly what we’re doing; most of the city’s development is in fact low- and medium-rise.  It’s just not as visible as highrise.

To make the case again, I went to this week’s issue of Novae Res Urbisthe weekly newsletter on municipal issues in Vancouver – and culled the renderings from the most recent meeting of the Urban Design Panel.




All mid-rise (five to twelve storeys).

16 Sep 15:10


Gus “Acorn/VoodooPad” Mueller on software development and The Wilderness.

It's a period of time where I'm pretty lost, and I don't know what to do. I have feature lists, I have open bugs to fix, and I have an outline of where the app is going. But I feel mentally incapacitated, like I'm getting nothing done.

I call this "The Wilderness".

I hear it talked about occasionally, though I don't think people really know what's going on. And I've seen it happen to other devs as well, from the hardly known to the super famous and successful. I've seen devs fall into it, never to return.

This merges several different sloughs of despond. There’s the pressure of deadlines, of colleagues and customers who are counting on whatever you’re building.

There’s the pressure of getting everything right. In software, every damn wrong note can bring the whole concert to a thudding halt. You can’t single that triple Axel. If you miss the blocker, there’s no running back to pick him up and no hope that Tom will step up in the pocket or Fran will turn it into a 12-yard scramble. This is made worse because people have been told that it's all easy and that intuitive, bug-free, defect-free software at $1.99 is the way everything ought to be. Some things just aren’t going to be intuitive because some things really are rocket science.

And some things are going to be wrong — and other things will seem wrong even if they’re right — because software design and implementation is one of those things that are rocket science.

And then there’s still the big problem I still call “being along with the molecule.” The craft of software is often research, and sometimes nature doesn’t yield her secrets easily. Sometimes, what seemed likely to work simply doesn’t. Sometimes, what worked well enough last year won’t work any more. We just had one of those in Tinderbox; a small bit of debris in the code that has literally no effect in Mavericks turned out to crash the Yosemite beta. This was only a little tricky to track down, but of course we didn’t know that when setting off into the wilderness. You never know.

18 Sep 20:38

Open Badges Community Project Call, September 17, 2014

Open Badges Community Project Call, September 17, 2014:



This week we heard from Charla Long, Dean of the College of Professional Studies at Lipscomb University, about how Lipscomb has been using badges to reimagine credentialing and prior learning assessment for their liberal arts college.

Lipscomb University began looking at competency-based learning in response to an industry need for a new skills currency that could convey graduates’ competencies to potential employers. Traditional transcripts just “don’t cut it,” according to Charla Long, at least not from a higher education perspective. A badge backpack or digital competency report, on the other hand, better communicates to external consumers exactly what students know and can do.

Lipscomb’s Badge Journey

Employers needed new ways to evaluate graduates that highlight important skills and competencies relevant to the workplace: in a 2011 study, it was found that 84% of employers felt graduates were “underprepared” for the workplace. If a traditional degree or transcript can’t provide enough specific information, both graduates and employers miss out on chances to connect talent with opportunities for success.

Students are also highly impacted by gaming and motivated to “level up;” the team at Lipscomb sought to capitalize on the influence of games within education. Badges can help show learners how to progress towards a degree as well as tracking the journey and providing detailed information about the process.

By looking deeply at competency as a basis for credentialing, Lipscomb University began to see every workplace role as being, at its simplest level, a unique combination and levels of the following competencies: Knowledge, Skills, Ability, Attitude. Lipscomb’s role is to identify what learners need to be successful in the roles they are hoping to fulfill.

Lipscomb’s Polaris Competency Model, outlined below, breaks down 41 key competencies across 7 categories:

This breakdown allows for flexibility and customization for particular programs of study and for individual learners’ needs. This allows learners to pursue exactly what they need for a particular career, and employers can clearly see what candidates have achieved, their level of mastery for particular skills, and what soft skills they have been recognized for, including leadership, communication, and management skills.

Charla also talked about the power of badges to empower learners: many of their learners are not degree-seekers, but are working through individual modules according to their needs and capacity. They can then pursue a broader learning experience and credential if they so choose.

Lipscomb currently offers 164 badges in their ‘base inventory,’ and provides students with a competency report that can embed into social media and electronic job-seeking platforms, acting as a transcript of a learner’s badge achievements that allow employers to see what candidates know and can do.

Employer Focus Groups

In a set of employer focus groups, Charla worked with a number of managers and senior managers, engaging them in a number of collaborative and competitive activities over the course of an 8-hour day, assessing various competencies and behaviors to get a sense of their overall performance throughout the day.

The participating employers were given an evaluation and feedback, where they were shown how the work they had done during the exercises could count for academic credit at an undergraduate level through competency badges. There are many employers and manager in the workforce that may not have finished their degree but have years of relevant experience - for them, Charla said it was a revelation to know that what they’d done and learned could count as credit. These focus groups made an explicit connection between skills, badges, and credit, highlighting badge value in both an educational and workplace setting.

These kinds of connections are vital to increasing badge system growth and adoption - and Lipscomb has already seen results. In her June presentation to participants in the Open Badges MOOC, Charla told the group that Lipscomb was talking to an employer considering sending 9,700 people through Lipscomb’s badged modules!

To learn more about Lipscomb’s core competency model, click here. You can contact Charla Long directly via email with questions and comments.

22 Sep 16:09

It’s like that video where the star sizes are compared and...

It’s like that video where the star sizes are compared and keep getting larger until your mind explodes.

22 Sep 12:58

"We would like to thank all of our customers for making this our best launch ever, shattering all..."

“We would like to thank all of our customers for making this our best launch ever, shattering all previous sell-through records by a large margin. While our team managed the manufacturing ramp better than ever before, we could have sold many more iPhones with greater supply and we are working hard to fill orders as quickly as possible.”

- Tim Cook, announcing that Apple sold over 10 million iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus’ over the weekend. 
17 Sep 17:00

Building a better Instagram app for Android

Android is a huge ecosystem, with more than 1 billion active users spanning thousands of different device models. People who use Android have an incredible amount of choice, with significant variations in speed, feature set, and cost. Screen size is the most obvious variable — popular Android devices span from 240 x 320 to 1080 x 1920 pixels, a 27-fold difference in pixel count! In some emerging markets, users must also contend with unreliable mobile networks. All this means that supporting Android users is both a technical challenge — and an opportunity for mobile developers who want to reach the entire world.

At Instagram we’ve spent the last year reimagining and redesigning our Android app to work better for our users, no matter what phones they use or where they are located. We shared details about this effort for the first time at this week’s @Scale conference.

We focused our work on Android on two key areas: design, and startup time.


We redesigned Instagram for Android six months ago with three main goals in mind: making the app faster, more beautiful, and more screen-size aware.

"Flat design" has taken hold in the mobile world over the past few years. Android’s "Holo" theme, Windows Phone, and iOS7 all ditched complex gradients and shadows for solid colors and flat images. Flat design looks great on phone screens, but there is an even more important reason why it has taken hold: performance. Flat design is all about doing less — stripping away UI elements and letting the content speak for itself. Drawing solid colors on the screen is faster and more memory efficient than loading and displaying gradients from image files on disk. Simplicity means less work for the phone’s hardware, hence a faster app.

With these goals in mind, we rewrote every single screen in the app. We gave Instagram on Android a beautifully flat makeover, trimmed unnecessary UI to give you more space to view photos and videos, and focused relentlessly on doing less in order to make the app faster.

The most dramatic UI optimization happened in the photo- and video-capture and editing flow. We rewrote the original layout flow to be more screen-size aware. To do this we divided screens into four buckets, based on aspect ratio and DPI, and used a condensed layout on only the screens in the smallest buckets. At the same time, medium- and large-sized screens received an expanded layout that better utilized the available pixels. The result is that most Instagram’s Android users now experience a more ergonomically friendly flow, with all the editing and camera controls easily within reach of your thumb.

One of the techniques we use widely through the app is “asset tinting,” the ability to colorize assets programmatically. In a flat world, all of our assets are simply shapes, and we can change their colors at runtime. This allows us to eliminate separate assets for different UI states. Asset tinting is touted as a new feature in the upcoming Android L release, but it’s actually been possible in all versions of Android. You can apply a ColorFilter to a Drawable or an ImageView, and it will change the rendered output. We keep a static cache of immutable ColorFilter objects and reuse them all over the app.

In the end, we were able to dramatically reduce the number of assets needed display the Instagram UI when the app starts. We went from 29 assets to display the title bar and tab bar to 8. It turns out that not loading and decoding all those assets on startup gives you an awesome speed win; this alone reduced the app startup time by 120 milliseconds across devices (an improvement of roughly 10-20%, depending on the device). These gains were felt all across the app — for example, user profiles displayed up to twice as fast because of this simplification.

With this new flat design, and using the techniques described above, we were able to ship a smaller APK with fewer images. We cut the total number of assets in the app in half, even while adding xxhdpi assets. Along with other optimizations, the APK we shipped post-redesign was half the size of what it had been a few months before. This is a huge benefit for users who pay for data by the kilobyte and must wait for the app to download over really slow networks.

Startup Time

Users don’t want to wait forever for their apps to start up. This is especially important on Android, where less powerful phones will kill apps more often under memory pressure, making the impact of a long startup time even more painful.

We managed to cut the Instagram app start time in half over the past year on Android, to the point where it’s now one of the fastest-starting apps on the phone. Instagram now starts up and is usable in less than 0.5 seconds on a Galaxy S5, and in only 1.5 seconds on a Galaxy Y, an older device that has been popular in emerging markets.

To achieve these gains, we spent a lot of time profiling the app, both using the Android TraceView tool, and manual timing statements in the code. We made a lot of small improvements, like rewriting inefficient JSON parsing code and lazy-loading components that weren’t really needed for startup. There were two areas that required some creativity.

The first was in managing “heavy” app-wide singletons: services like our image cache, video cache, and http client. These need to be initialized for the app to work, right? Well actually, they don’t — we can start the app and interact with it without issuing network requests or showing any photos or videos. This means that these services can be lazy-loaded. However, we don’t want to complicate the programming model by having these objects be “null” during startup. So we initialize these objects in two steps. We create them on the main thread as we used to, but leave them in an uninitialized state, just enough so that the public API works. Then, when we spin up separate threads to actually load images or load content from the network, we finish initialization by doing the heavy lifting — loading SSL certificates off the disk, or opening and reading the cache journal file.

The second thing we found was that our News page was really slowing down app startup. The News page shows you who liked and commented on your photos, and we load it at startup so that you can see your new activity immediately. News was originally implemented as a webview, and after profiling we were surprised to find that it was creating a lot of threads on startup, stealing time from the main processor. We realized that we had no control over how the webview manages important system resources. It spins up its own networking stack, manages its own image cache — a lot of duplicated work with the rest of the app. To fix this, we converted News to be a native view. This gave us enough control to be able to delay loading News until after main feed is loaded, and to share the network stack and image cache with the rest of the app.

All of these efforts combined led to a much more usable Instagram for Android, which people have been enjoying for the past 6 months. Simplicity is a core principle for our engineering and product teams, and we’ll continue to push hard on efforts like these to make the Instagram experience as fast and beautiful as possible for all of our users.

By Tyler Kieft

18 Sep 13:47

Amazon’s new Kindle Fire HDX boasts a Snapdragon 805 processor and Fire OS 4.0

by Rajesh Pandey
Besides the new Kindle and Fire HD tablets, Amazon also revealed an updated Fire HDX 8.9 tablet with faster internals, better audio and network performance and Fire OS 4.0.  Continue reading →
18 Sep 03:25

Amazon announces the new Fire HD and Fire HD Kids Edition tablets

by Rajesh Pandey
Along with the new Kindles, Amazon also announced a refresh of its Fire HD line-up of tablets. The new 6 and 7-inch Fire HD tablets come in five new colors, feature an HD display, a quad-core processor and Dolby Digital Plus, making it the most tempting tablet under $100.  Continue reading →
21 Sep 19:06

The Plan To Save RadioShack

A few days after the launch of the latest iPhone and we still have lines out the doors of Apple Stores around the world. I was in this one on Friday. It truly was insane.

This stands in stark contrast to the recent news about RadioShack. Impending bankruptcy will probably drag this out for years, but the writing on the wall seems clear: the once-dominant consumer electronics retailer is going to die.

And that’s too bad. I, like so many people of my generation, have fond memories of the chain from my youth. It was the place to go and discover that anything and everything was possible with electronics. It was, in a way, the Apple Store of its day.

Okay, that’s probably a stretch. But if consumer electronics had been as mainstream in the 1980s as they are today, there’s no reason to think RadioShack couldn’t have been the place to be for everyone, beyond just the geeks.

Instead, RadioShack morphed into what was essentially a cell phone outpost pitted against the long-term interest of the carriers. Hence, the situation they’re now in.

No one is asking, but my plan to revive RadioShack would be to harken back to the old days with a twist of the way things currently are. I’d create an “Apple Store for everything.”

Yeah, yeah with Apple now the crown jewel of retail, everyone is trying to do this. But RadioShack has two distinct advantages. 1) This love of gadgetry is in their DNA. 2) They already have the retail presence.

And actually, number 2 has been a huge point of weakness for RadioShack. They’ve tried to close a large amount of current stores, but their investors won’t let them. So it may be time to turn the perceived weakness into a strength.

Yes, Best Buy and others have been trying to do this to some extent as well. But those stores are way too cluttered and intimidating. Radio Shack stores seem to be just the right size. The key would be to curate only the best-of-the-best Android devices, Google devices, Microsoft devices, Sony devices, etc. Not everything, just the best.

Then lay those items out around the store to let people try them out and compare. And have experts around to help. Experts not paid on commission. Experts who aren’t fucking clueless (go into a RadioShack store now, most employees are clueless about current technology). Actual experts in the various gadgets and ecosystems.

Yes, Radio Shack seems to be doing some of this with their new store strategy. But I’ve seen one of those new stores – they don’t go far enough. They’re just trying to be actual Apple Stores (including the emphasis on Beats). They should be more like Bizzaro Apple Stores.

Again, don’t offer everything, just the best things. Partner with The Wirecutter or someone who excels in this type of curation. Be the place people trust to sort through the gadget clutter.

And maybe mix in some new, exciting tech. Things like Oculus, 3D printers, etc. Things that excite the public’s interest and things they want to see in person.

If you can establish yourself in this way, I think the lines out the door on launch days (of select products) may follow.

Remember, when the first Apple Stores launched, they were ridiculed as a failure waiting to happen. Apple did a lot of smart things to get to where they are now, but the focus on quality products is what ultimately made the strategy work. We may not be able to rely on other consumer electronic giants to do the same on their own, and that’s where RadioShack could step in. To curate. The Apple Store for everything else.

(Written on my iPhone)

18 Sep 09:31

digg: USEFUL AND RELEVANT (via) Should be an interesting day...



Should be an interesting day on this side of the pond.

17 Sep 16:16

"And let’s not even talk about the paste icon, which is ridiculous. First of all, it’s a glue bottle...."

“And let’s not even talk about the paste icon, which is ridiculous. First of all, it’s a glue bottle. Second of all… look, let’s just move on.”

- Nilay Patel, who seems to love most everything about the iPhone 6 Plus except the new landscape keyboard.
17 Sep 15:36

The iPhone 6/6 Plus Reviews

The iPhone 6/6 Plus Reviews:

The initial reviews are in, and no surprise, everyone seems to love the device(s). There are definitely some strong opinions as to which one people prefer (example: John Gruber vastly prefers the iPhone 6 while Nilay Patel loves the iPhone 6 Plus).

Two other interesting tidbits reading the reviews:

1) A lot of folks seem to feel like the iPhone 6 Plus is more like an entirely new device than just a bigger iPhone. It’s a sort of hybrid between the iPhone 6 and the iPad mini. I find this interesting. I wonder if we’ll see more Plus-specific elements, like the landscape keyboard.

Like many others, I wonder what this means for the iPad mini as well (incidentally, I’m typing this on an iPad mini, but I’ve always preferred the iPad Air). I assume Apple will update it with the other iPads (next month?) but do sales plunge with this new device out there? And if so, does Apple shift the iPad line to go bigger (as has also been rumored)?

2) A number of reviewers bake in these weird, pre-emptive apologies to fans of other devices because they say they love the new iPhones. I mean, I get it: no one likes to be trolled, especially by commenters. But you should never apologize for your honest opinion. That’s why we’re reading the review!

17 Sep 10:51

"The way your dad looked at it, this watch was your birthright."

"The way your dad looked at it, this watch was your birthright.":

John Gruber:

Last week Apple only demonstrated a portion of Apple Watch’s functionality, gave a vague shipping date of only “early 2015”, and announced only a $349 “starting price” that I believe has grossly misinformed the expectations of many people for the prices of the steel and gold models.

I agree. I can’t tell you how many people have asked me how much I think the high end Apple Watch is going to cost. When my response is that I would guess it will be “thousands, not hundreds of dollars” they tend to gasp.

By only announcing the pricing floor, Apple is setting a certain expectation. And that expectation, rightly or wrongly, is that the high end Apple Watches will be within hundreds of dollars of the cheapest variety (as is the case with the majority of their other product lines). Like Gruber, I do not believe that will be the case here.

I think we’ll look back and laugh at the time that people were outraged when the rumor was that the device may be $400. Apple, as usual, was thinking differently.

One other point from Gruber:

But Apple Watch is not just a piece of jewelry, and it’s not a mechanical device. It’s a computer. And all computers have lifespans measured in just a handful of years before obsolescence. If you buy a $6,000 mechanical watch and take care of it, you can expect it to outlive you and become a family heirloom. Paying even $1,000, let alone a multiple of that, for a premium Apple Watch seems like folly if it’s going to be obviated by faster, sleeker, longer-lasting versions in just a few years. And I don’t see how it won’t be replaced by faster, sleeker, longer-lasting versions, because that’s how all computer technology goes. Apple Watch is not a tech product, but technology is what distinguishes it — and computer technology gets old fast. A Rolex purchased in 2007 is every bit as good today as it was then. (Arguably even better, given some of Rolex’s questionable design decisions of the last decade.) An iPhone purchased in 2007 is 85 times slower in CPU performance than an iPhone 6, and I don’t even want to think about how much slower EDGE is than LTE networking.

This is the biggest question mark about the high end Apple Watch, in my opinion. With all their products, Apple is on a regular hardware update cycle — and quite often, that’s yearly. Given the computer aspects of the device, you’d have to assume the same is going to be true for the Apple Watch. But who on Earth is going to pay $5,000 a year?

It’s possible that this is a new way for the super rich to show off their wealth: by upgrading their gold Apple Watches yearly. Or it’s possible, as Gruber briefly mentions, that they’ll be able to take their watches to an Apple Store and have the innards swapped out for new components, while the outside remains the same (perhaps just polished in store). 

Either way, it sure seems like Apple doesn’t care much about the notion that a watch is something most people only buy once or twice in their lives. Before the iPhone, people also didn’t upgrade their phones each year (I had my pre-iPhone device, a Motorola Razr, for almost three years before I got the iPhone — imagine that upgrade cycle now). This is different, of course. But I wouldn’t write off something Apple is doing simply because it’s different. That’s often when they do their best work.

This is not your great-grandfather’s watch.

17 Sep 08:19

nevver: It’s enough