Monday, December 31, 2007

Personal Use isn't Fair Use

Almost as if on cue, to stress the point I made in response to Pete Ashton in this post's comments, the RIAA are now ready to take on even those of us who steer well clear of piracy:
In legal documents in its federal case against Jeffrey Howell, a Scottsdale, Ariz., man who kept a collection of about 2,000 music recordings on his personal computer, the industry maintains that it is illegal for someone who has legally purchased a CD to transfer that music into his computer.

The industry's lawyer in the case, Ira Schwartz, argues in a brief filed earlier this month that the MP3 files Howell made on his computer from legally bought CDs are "unauthorized copies" of copyrighted recordings. (via DF)

It's tempting to laugh at this kind of action in a 'what can they do?' kind of way, but it's more serious than that. This is essentially direct action against iTunes and the iPod, as that's almost certainly where most legally purchased but format-shifted content resides. The industry will pretend (again) that they're happy with some kind of kick-back from iPod sales, but that's the thin end of the wedge for them to wring whatever kind of money they can out of the electronics industry in order to compensate for the failure of their business model. More hope perhaps lies in Apple's ability to convincingly put in place technology that lets owners of CDs legitimately and securely format-shift content in a way the industry can grudgingly accept. In the long term, Pete (and others) are right and DRM isn't the answer, and we need to press for the recommendations of the Gower Review to be implemented soon in this regard.

I'll say it again though: I'd sooner have a unintrusive (and Pete, while I've no desire to be some kind of DRM-apologist, it is largely unintrusive as long as you're staying within your usage rights) Fairplay-style lock to my devices than have the music industry propped up with cash from device sales.

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Saturday, December 29, 2007

CD better than Digital.

When You Believe in iTunes not CDs - Telegraph:
"Where there is a good quality album, people will continue to buy the CD. This trend was evidenced by Leona Lewis [last year's X-Factor winner], who had the largest selling CD ever, selling 400,000 copies in week one," says Mr Fox. There remain many benefits to the CD, he adds: "The CD is still a higher quality format than digital, and is the only format that works across all players as it is Digital Rights Management-free - you can listen in the car or in the house."

In other news, Spaghetti better than pasta.

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Thursday, December 27, 2007

More Video coming to iTunes, Apple TV may have future, Dead walk the Earth.

It's good to hear that video rentals may finally be coming to iTunes, but what's this about a tie-up with Fox DVDs?:
A digital file protected by FairPlay will be included in new Fox DVD releases, enabling film content to be transferred or “ripped” from the disc to a computer and video iPod. DVD content can already be moved to an iPod but this requires special software and is considered piracy by some studios

Hmm. Doesn't make much sense to me. Another format on the DVD especially for Apple? It could happen, but I can't see it catching on. And how would that be any better from a DRM perspective than an encrypted DVD? More sensible (and IMO more likely) would be an Apple TV that lets us rip a DVD to a Fairplay protected H.264 file that's then authorised by my Apple ID and playable on the same kind of terms as the DRM'd iTunes content. That I'd buy.

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Friday, December 14, 2007

I'd crack an iPhone for a finished version of this

Especially if it would post directly to YouTube. It can't be long before Apple provide this functionality directly though.

Slashdot | Hack Turns iPhone Camera Into HD Camcorder:

'While the iPhone's 2.0 megapixel camera resolution may be mediocre for a still camera, it is excellent resolution for a consumer video camera.' A standard definition Canon digital camcorder uses a 680K pixel sensor chip (because a standard definition TV's resolution is only 520 x 360), while one of Canon's HD camcorders uses a 2.9 megapixel sensor. The beta presently allows 5 second clips at 10 frames per second, but the finished version will soon allow infinite recording at 45 frames per second.

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Thursday, December 13, 2007

Happy Saint Lucy's Day

But watch out for the, much older, Lussi:
The old date for the Lussi Night is December 13th, regarded as the longest night of the year and associated with the solstice. That was carried over into the new era. Between lussi night and jól all kinds of trolls were out and about. It was particularly dangerous to be out during Lussi Night. Children who had done mischief had to take special care, because Lussi could come down through the chimney and take them.

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Friday, December 7, 2007

Karlheinz Stockhausen RIP

Ok, just one more. Karlheinz Stockhausen died today as you'll know. Stimmung Singcircle pierced my consciousness back in 1984 as a 15-year-old Drama student. My friend David and I accidentally tuned into Radio 3's Stockhausen extravaganza, and it was just as if we'd touched an extra-terrestrial intelligence. We taped what we could and used it as the backing for some pompous and pretentious play I'd written; I hope Karl would forgive us our ignorant youthful folly. As repentance, as I write Paul Hillier's 51-track performance of Stimmung is downloading in iTunes.

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Shoot Less

Last post of the day I'm sure, and another attempt to make up for my cynical trashing of Woom's site by linking to a site I love. FILE Magazine is lovely, and the 36 Exposures Contest is just for you film-lovers:
But this ease of use and surfeit of images comes with a price. In the analog era, when we had to pay to see what we shot, we were more careful when we took photographs. This forced a discipline that is hard to imagine today. In the words of Stephen Shore, "[Today] there seems to be a greater freedom and lack of one considers one's pictures less, one produces fewer truly considered pictures."

I have a Canon EOS 700 sitting on my shelf at work that might need dusting off..

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You have eaten another glowing dot!

Ever wonder what Pac Man would have been like before graphics? Somethinglike this I suspect:
You awaken in a large complex, slightly disoriented. Glowing dots hover mouth level near you in every direction. Off in the distance you hear the faint howling of what you can only imagine must be some sort of ghost or several ghosts.

> look
You are in a long corridor. You may go forward or backward and there are glowing dots in every direction. There is a glowing dot hovering near you.

> eat
You have eaten the glowing dot!

> look
You are in a long corridor. You may go forward or backward and there are glowing dots in every direction.

> forward
You have moved.

> eat
You have eaten another glowing dot!

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Untitled Document, honestly.

Untitled Document is the perhaps intentional title of the home page of new Birmingham art gallery Woom, and it's a real blast from the past. No really, I remember making a site like this for artist Skip Rat, sometime back in 1995/6. All very creative guys, but really, this is 2007. No page titles, no text, no rss. On a positive note, the artists in the first show look great, and the site links out to them (including this lovely horizontal-scroller from Matt Burden).

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Thursday, December 6, 2007

Awe. Some.

I just fell in love with Flickr all over again. By how much would they have to raise the price in order to make me leave?
Picnik’s awesome photo editing tools are now only a click away. If you’ve ever wanted to deal with the dreaded red eye or crop a photo just so, click on the new “edit photo” icon located above one of your photos and get started.

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Tuesday, December 4, 2007

This made my day

Thanks to Fake Steve Jobs.

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Monday, November 26, 2007


High Definition Blog: Avid Announces Major Shift in 2008:
“We are always evaluating the most effective ways to build closer relationships with our customers and keep pace with the ever-changing media market. Over the past few months, we’ve been collecting data from all of our constituents, and the findings have been clear – we need to connect with users in new ways,” said Graham Sharp, vice president and general manager of Avid’s Video division.

For which read: "Our customers don't understand what we're doing, and they're moving to Final Cut Pro".

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IM on iPod touch

And on the iPhone too obviously. I finally got around to checking out meebo yesterday, and boy am I glad I did. Finally I have a single web-based interface that lets me log in on MSN, Yahoo, AIM/iChat and Google Talk all at once. It gets through the university firewall (it's just port 80 http), has a decent AJAX interface, and a lovelier mobile Safari optimised version. With the iPhone/iPod predictive text I can manage a decent chat speed too. Lovely, lovely, lovely. If only it handled Skype messaging too. Ah well, let's wait for the SDK and the real Skype client.

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Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The Scourge of Arial

This is old news, but it's worth revisiting. The Scourge of Arial:
Despite its pervasiveness, a professional designer would rarely—at least for the moment—specify Arial. To professional designers, Arial is looked down on as a not-very-faithful imitation of a typeface that is no longer fashionable. It has what you might call a "low-end stigma." The few cases that I have heard of where a designer has intentionally used Arial were because the client insisted on it.

Why am I quoting this now? That'll be because a recently rebranded local institution's marketing department has just specified Arial for all its output, on PC at least. Go figure.

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A nice white wine and a fresh corpse

This approach to finding a partner will never work down the pub on a Saturday night. Well, maybe in Scruffy Murphy's:
Carrion beetles need a tiny corpse, such as a dead mouse or vole, in order reproduce. When they find one, they use pheromones to attract a mate. After mating, the male and female stay together until their young are raised.

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Post Brands

There's a lot of talk about brand value, especially when you're surrounded by design educators, and I've always been suspicious of it. Never more in fact than this week, when I'm party to lots of discussions about the future branding of academic courses. This then from Dim Bulb is very timely and very welcome:
So who needs brands when you have ubiquitous information?

Branding was always shorthand that existed to fill the information gap inherent in a marketplace where customers were separated by time, space, and experience from sellers, and from one another. 

In the PC-everywhere society, that gap no longer exists.

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Monday, November 12, 2007

The Mobile Web is the Only Web

Pete Ashton on Simon Winnall's new iPhone optimised portfolio site:
The photographer Simon Winnall came to my attention because he’s set up an iPhone specific version of his web gallery which I’m rather conflicted about (for nerdy reasons of cross-platform compatibility and the like - nothing for you normals to worry about) but saved himself from pretty much anything by having some serious concrete action on there.

Pete, I understand your inner conflict, after years of sites coded for IE. Yes, surely the advantage of mobile Safari is that it works with regular websites, not ones coded especially. However it’s hard to argue when a bit of optimisation results in a site as lovely as Simon’s: usable on any standard browser and perfect for the palm of your hand. None of the silly ‘next’ slideshow stuff his regular site has, just scrolling photographic deliciousness. He should dump the regular site and make his iPhone site his only site.

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Sunday, November 11, 2007

I love this stuff

I'm always snapping pictures of tits-up public computer systems, but this one takes the biscuit. If only our beloved despised Birmingham Big Screen would take a leaf from this; at least we'd have a few day's peace and quiet.
At one of Toronto's locations of The Bay department store, four giant screens have suffered from the infamous Blue Screen of Death for days. You'd think that someone would, I dunno, turn off the freakin' screens.

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Friday, November 9, 2007

iPod Touch gets Update

As of this today, and coinciding with the UK/Germany iPhone release, the iPod Touch firmware jumped to 1.1.2. With it comes support for adding new events in Calendar, more language options, the inevitable security holes plugged, and the option to manually manage music by dragging it to the icon in iTunes. Can we have Mail app now please?

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Post Resolution

Not in exactly the way I've been thinking about, but amazingly significant in any case:
Naked light throws away antiquated concepts like pixels; layers; 8-bit color; and destructive, non-re-editable filters and operations. Instead, compositions in Naked light represent a sort of Platonic ideal—with infinite resolution, an astounding 590 quintillion colors, and perpetually re-editable nodes.

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Google's Horse/Camel Phone OS

Steven Frank has it squarely nailed:
What a travesty this Android announcement is. A 34-company committee that's going to oversee the development of a currently non-existent suite of open-source mobile applications to run on as-yet-unspecified hardware. I've never seen so much hot air, and honestly I'm kind of shocked that it came out of Google.

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Friday, November 2, 2007

Lisa Meyer & Jenny Moore: Bringing balance to the Force

Brummie of the Year 2007:
Lisa Meyer & Jenny Moore of Capsule. The Capsule girls, for it is they, have become mainstays of the Birmingham gig scene bringing some fantastic artists to the city. They also promote cake, and everyone loves cake.

If these two don't win there's no justice, and the balance of the Universe will have been upset for a generation. You have been warned.

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Monday, October 29, 2007

Bug or Feature?

Leopard's "Back to My Mac" feature lets a .mac user control their computer remotely via their .mac account. It's a fantastically useful idea, but there's some controversy over the first release not requiring your computer password as well as your .mac one. This paragraph concerns me though:
Most of us will use a “weaker” password for our .Mac account than for our Mac itself. It’s certainly what we’ve done to date anyway, since .Mac services were nowhere near as critical.

My .mac password is, id anything, stronger than the one for my computer since I figure I'm sending it over the Internet routinely, and it provides access to my IMAP email. My Mac itself is protected by its firewall, by disabling remote control services, and by controlling physical access to the machine itself. This is, surely, just as it should be. What I expect to see from Apple is an update, requiring your login password or, better still, a separate remote password.

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Friday, October 26, 2007

Mac sales benefit from 10 year brand refit

It's not the iPod halo, but a slow rebuilding of the Apple brand that's driving Mac sales growth:
Yet, Jobs knew the brand was suffering. “Even great brands need care and feeding,” Jobs said back then. “We have to nurture this brand.”

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Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Apple hears our Leopard Dock pain.

Apple has updated the Dock so that it has a 2-Dimensional appearance when it resides on the side of the screen. When residing on the bottom of the screen, the Dock retains the 3d shelf appearance.

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Monday, October 22, 2007


Cult of Mac » Blog Archive » Mac Design Holding Pattern Needs to End:
Worst of all, Apple has the best touch interface in the world on the iPhone and the iPod touch. Why on earth hasn’t it shown up in a computer yet(?)
That'll be because it's only been on the market for a few months in any usable form. But then this is from someone who thinks the fugly Compaq 2710 is "gorgeous".

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Sunday, October 21, 2007

The price of creative freedom

How Much Did Radiohead Make? It Doesn't Matter - Silicon Alley Insider:
Radiohead is likely to make a nice sum from "In Rainbows," but the real advantage that its giveaway stunt has conferred is freedom: Radiohead, not a music label, will own the songs it recorded (EMI owns all of Radiohead's earlier work, for instance). Radiohead, not a music label, can decide how to market, promote and distribute the songs -- if it wants to do any of the above. And Radiohead, not a music label, can decide when, where and how it wants to release its next album.
For the record, I paid £4.99.

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Kicking the ass of Cookies

If you aren't excited about this then explaining it to you won't change a thing. Suffice to say, the web developers reading it will be licking their lips in anticipation. Think of Google Gears and built it into a web standard. Silverlight or Apollo, minus the Evil.

WebKit Does HTML5 Client-side Database Storage:

The client-side database storage API allows web applications to store structured data locally using a medium many web developers are already familiar with - SQL

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Wednesday, September 19, 2007


Well, I'm posting this from my iPod touch using blogger's web interface, and while it's going to take a little time to get used to typing on this keyboard, it's not too bad. More later.

No CBR on my iPod touch

I guarantee, there'll never, ever, be a copy of "Put Your Record On" on this iPod touch, not while it's mine at least.

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More Fry: On the Foleo

I had to pull this one out, what with the recent items on Palm. Stephen Fry:
Since then, in one of the most astonishing public suicide attempts in the history of this industry, Palm have produced a item that EVEN I DO NOT WANT, the Foleo. If it’s got a chip in it, and a keyboard, and WiFi and a screen and I haven’t sent off for one, then by God you’d better believe it’s in trouble. Though mind you, knowing me, I probably would have bought one in the end.

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The Wonderful Words of Stephen Fry

Beloved national treasure on the iPhone and a plethora of other handhelds past, present, future, and notional. This is just one of many gems:
(I’m not even going to mention outside these parentheses the LG Prada phone, that’s an iPhone beater in the same way Tim Henman is a Federer beater).

Thanks to Asam on the wonderful Midlands Mac User Group list for the heads-up.

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Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Beautiful Type on the Web

Great writing too.

hitotoki : Coming Soon to Gotham

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Another day, another format

DVD Forum gives three-layer, 51GB HD DVD the thumbs up:
What's unclear at this stage is whether today's HD DVD drives and players will be able to read the new disc. However, with such a small number of HD DVD devices out there - relative to DVD players - only a limited number of early adopters are likely to be affected, and these are the kind of folk who are generally happy to upgrade in any case.

What's also unclear is whether anyone will still care by the time the whole mess is sorted out. Apple seems to be baking on being the company with the most workable infrastructure for actually selling video by the time the industry realises that a new kind of Polycarbonate disk isn't the answer. Rick McCallum can be found in this month's Star Wars Insider voicing pretty much the same opinion, though his suggestion of each studio having its own "web site" to deliver content sounds like a royal PITA. He's right though, HD-DVD and Blu-ray might well tire each other out fighting, while the real battle is somewhere else entirely.

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Ok, this is funny

I drink in Starbucks, and I like the coffee, but I share Arc90's dismay when any music I like gets picked up by the Evil Bean Empire. Obviously then, this is a feature I'd like to see on the iPod touch
Since the iPhone's release, hackers have been tirelessly working to open up the iPhone. Custom ringtones. Homebrew applications. Even SIM activation. They've done a very impressive job. Well, we need their help again. We need a feature that would cleanse our souls and protect us from the rampant homogeneity of Starbucks.

Personally, one of the reasons I keep my iPod with me is so that I don't have to listen to the music in Starbucks..

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Sunday, September 9, 2007

Hunt for Steve Fossett with Mechanical Turk

I'm spending my evening doing this, and I suggest you do the same:
Greetings from Amazon Mechanical Turk On Monday, September 3, 2007, Steve Fossett, the first person to fly a plane around the world without refueling and the first person to fly around the world in a balloon went missing in Nevada. An airplane he was flying failed to return. No one has any idea where he is. Through the generous efforts of individuals at several organizations, detailed satellite imagery has been made available for his last known whereabouts. HITs have been created to ask volunteers to help review these images and flag potential areas of interest which will be instrumental in the search and rescue efforts. This is a race against time and any help you can provide will make a huge difference. Friends and family of Steve Fossett would like to thank you for helping them with this cause. Amazon Mechanical Turk Team

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Orlowski is spot on

I don't often say that. Yes, with the iPod touch, Apple has reinvented the PDA market in a way almost no-one expected. Remember, Steve Jobs has never been a convergence guy. He's always argued been an advocate of elegant devices that do one or two things really well. I moved to a Palm Vx (from a Newton MessagePad 120) because it was so simple and elegant, but each successive Palm device (a 515, a T3, a LifeDrive) became more complex, unwieldy, and unstable. The iPod touch just sneaked up behind Palm and killed their TX, while they were stabbing the Foleo.
And as a bonus, the importance of which few pundits or bloggers have realised yet, Apple stealthily enters a new market altogether: the connected PDA. This 'Second Box' business is one that almost everyone has neglected, because they've followed the conventional wisdom that Everything Must Be Converged. But what if that isn't true?

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Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Palm cancels Foleo, World yawns

Ed Colligan, CEO of Palm Inc announces the cancellation of the least-useful thing Palm ever almost-shipped. There's a lot of praise for his 'bold decision' in the comments. Hello? He made the decision, 3 months ago, to tout the Foleo as the next big thing in mobile. He should be begging for another chance, but then I'm not a shareholder:
Jeff Hawkins and I still believe that the market category defined by Foleo has enormous potential. When we do Foleo II it will be based on our new platform, and we think it will deliver on the promise of this new category. We're not going to speculate now on timing for a next Foleo, we just know we need to get our core platform and smartphones done first.

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Palm cancels Foleo, lunatics wail

Good grief:
At first I was skeptical and joined in the chorus of naysayers on forums eager to decry the Foleo. But over time I began to understand just how truly valuable a light-weight, long-lasting, instant on and elegantly simple sub-laptop could be. I literally made myself my own cardboard mockup of the device and carried it around my office. The potential of the Foleo cannot be grounded in today's laptop uses. It truly is a shift in paradigm.

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Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Explain to me again how this hurts the iPod

Silicon Alley Insider: Estimating Financial Impact of iTunes/NBC: Small, For Now, But We Still Expect Reconciliation:
Apple's iTunes store exists primarily as a way to promote iPod sales (and, down the line, perhaps gizmos like the iPhone and Apple TV). The pitch is one-stop shopping: Come to us, and you'll find all the music, TV, etc. that you need, in one place, with one pricing scheme. It's simple and it works. Steve Jobs doesn't need the revenue that NBC generates. But he does need to make sure consumers can find whatever content they want at his store. If they have to go elsewhere for that content, that new video iPod may look less appealing.

So, if Apple agrees to make it hard to put non-DRM content on the iPod then NBC will let them sell shows one day after they air. If they don't then those shows turn up on BitTorrent about an hour after they go out on the networks. I don't think I'll sweat over my purchase of the next iPod with video, which might well come tomorrow..

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Word: Just Say No

Stephen Poole, author of the excellent computer games book Trigger Happy has found a new Zen in losing Word. Excellent, informed and enjoyable. Goodbye, cruel Word:
For the first time, I no longer have a copy of Microsoft Word installed on either of my computers. That’s some change. I wrote my first two books, and many hundreds of articles, in Word. But I’m writing my third book in an inexpensive yet wonderful piece of Mac-only software written by a single person instead of a “business unit” at Redmond. Scoured of Word, my computers feel clean, refreshed, relieved of a hideous and malign burden. How did it come to this?

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Sunday, September 2, 2007

Michael Jackson, R.I.P.

That's the important Michael Jackson of course. Is there another?

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Friday, August 31, 2007

Nailing the Leopard Dock

I've my own thoughts on the Leopard Finder/Desktop/Dock changes too, but I'll save them for when I've played around with it longer. In the meantime, Paul at Rogue Amoeba has some very entertaining observations, and this response in the comments is a killer:
I've yet to see any other comments on the Dock being used on the side of the screen. This may be because those who've tried it have been stricken instantly with vertigo and had to go lie down for a bit. I'm powering through the nausea, however, in an effort to make you sick too.

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Thursday, August 30, 2007

Stefan Lewandowski on the UCE website redesign

I probably shouldn't pass comment on this, but I will. Well said Stef. I wasn't as big a fan as you of the prior BIAD site, but the new one is a very poor joke:
My advice - whoever is in charge of the budget for this project should be asking some serious questions of their developer. Why are they using out-dated web development techniques? Why has the site gone out without being rigorously tested on users and staff? What price design and individuality of the various departments? What message is being sent out with such a poor visual layout? If you accept this level of design now, how long will you have to wait for the _next_ redesign? How out of date will the site look _then_? What do BIAD think of the site? Surely they’ve got a few talented people who know what they’re doing with a website hanging around? Ask them to lend a hand? Or is this a student project? Speak to HR? Hire a good designer to work on the site?

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Good news from Flickr

Those who've been paying attention will know that Yahoo! dropped PayPal as a payment option for Flickr, freezing out a lot of people who'd prefer not to use an evil credit card. Well, yahoo for Yahoo! because it's back as an option from November, and the nice Flickr people are even offering to extend memberships until then for those who are affected:
PayPal will be a payment option in Yahoo! Wallet. In addition we will have ELV support for payments by our German members and local currency support for payments made my PayPal.

In the meantime, we will be more than happy to extend out pro-ness past November 20, for those members who are waiting for the return of PayPal.

I'm going to start from the beginning of this topic (as time permits) and make my way through to add pro to those people who we gifted in the past few weeks to keep them covered and we'll also gift those free account members who are stuck in this inbetween time. Again, thanks for all your patience.

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Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Designers: Get ready for iPhone

Well we don't when exactly, but we know it's coming to Europe soon, and Craig Hockenberry has an excellent guide to readying your online content for Mobile Safari:
The iPhone developers did a really smart thing—they designed the iPhone so that you really don’t need to do anything with your site for it to display correctly. So why am I writing this article? Well, you don’t really need to bathe periodically, either. But dealing with a clean person is much more palatable than one who hasn’t touched a bar of soap for several months. So it is with the iPhone: clean up a few things and your visitors will love you for it.

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Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Web video: We all won

The addition of H.264 to Flash is more important than it might sound. Adobe EngineerTinic Uro gives all the details, but this might convey just how big this is:
Will it be possible to place H.264 streams into the traditional FLV file structure? It will, but we strongly encourage everyone to embrace the new standard file format. There are functional limits with the FLV structure when streaming H.264 which we could not overcome without a redesign of the file format.

Say it again: .FLV is dead, and this might just be the knife in the heart for proprietary Windows Media formats too. Time will tell.

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Mind-reading machines

This talk at the Royal Society on September 27th sounds fascinating:
In this talk Rana el Kaliouby will present technologies with people sense, an emerging area of research that can improve people's ability to "connect" to others; advance social-emotional intelligence in machines to improve people's experience with technology, and build technologies and models that facilitate real-world testing of the mechanisms underlying social cognition, their developmental trajectory and their possible derailed development in pervasive developmental disorders such as autism.

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Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Everything changes from here

If true, the mobile telecoms world just shifted on its axis:
Apple has succeeded in committing European mobile phone operators that want exclusively to sell its new iPhone to share parts of their revenues with the technology group.

The contract, which was signed by three European mobile operators in recent days, requires that the operators hand over to Apple 10 per cent of the revenues made from calls and data transfers by customers over iPhones.

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Monday, August 20, 2007

Choosing a compact just got more difficult

Ok, so I've been moving inexorably towards the Ricoh Caplio GX100 with its wide zoom and RAW shooting mode, but now Canon have announced the Powershot G9 and - hurrah! - RAW is back. Now I'm confused again.
Well, Canon seems to have heard us, because the new G9 replacement does indeed have raw mode. It also has a 12.1MP sensor and an improved screen. My guess is that the camera was originally supposed to have raw mode, but that without the Digic III chip wouldn't have been fast enough. We'll also have to see whether the increased pixel count is a blessing or a curse, and what the raw shooting speed actually is like. This could well end up being the point-and-shoot of choice for the serious photographer.

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Microsoft: Thinking outside the box

Even the brilliant Joel Spolsky can't get into Office 2007:
It's a hard plastic case, sealed in two different places by plastic stickies. It represents a complete failure of industrial design; an utter F in the school of Donald Norman's Design of Everyday Things. To be technical about it, it has no true affordances and actually has some false affordances: visual clues as to how to open it that turn out to be wrong.

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Saturday, August 18, 2007

Useless software gets meaningless awards

Hilarious and depressing in equal measures, this intentionally non-functioning Windows program nonetheless picked up all kinds of plaudits from unscrupulous download sites:
I put out a new product a couple of weeks ago. This new product has so far won 16 different awards and recommendations from software download sites. Some of them even emailed me messages of encouragement such as “Great job, we’re really impressed!”. I should be delighted at this recognition of the quality of my software, except that the ’software’ doesn’t even run.

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Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Killer iMac?

Tanner Godarzi reckons Apple's new iMac portends doom for the all-in-one. I wonder what he's smoking:
Apple recently updated iMac may look sleek and improved but they have killed it as far as I am concerned. I don’t have a mole within Apple or sources ready to break NDAs but the signs are all in front of our eyes.

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Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Hand+Knife+Robot+Sweat =

I don't fancy finding out the answer myself. I won't be volunteering my hand as a test subject for 5VOLTCORE's Mumblety-Peg Machine:
Essential to the set-up is the the feedback loop i.e. the circularity between computer, robot and User. It instantiates the notion of a self-fulfilling prophecy: The human is right by assuming that the Machine can fail. The Machine can fail because the human assumes.

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Sunday, August 12, 2007

For the geek who has everything

It's no secret I love the Spork. I've been known to eat in SpudULike just to snaffle a supply of their green plastic sporks. This must be the ultimate though.

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Saturday, August 11, 2007

Fighting Talk

Lance Ulanoff is pretty upbeat on Apple's rising fortunes in PC Mag:
The word of mouth for any Macintosh is remarkably good, and with the negative press that Vista is getting, the shine on Apple only gets better and better. To put it simply, Apple's Macintosh is becoming the most logical choice for those looking to buy a new computer. I know I, like Dvorak, find myself hard-pressed not to recommend a Mac desktop or laptop among the PC systems I often tout.

Will there come a time when I recommend only Macs? No. But the day when Apple owns a much, much bigger slice of the computer-market pie is now within view. Let's mark our calendars, shall we? I say that by Q1 2012, Apple will own 12 percent of the market. Anyone want to guess where it'll be by 2025?

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Something happier to end the day. This is hilarious: swissmiss: iPhone Shuffle

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Tony Wilson

I only heard this week of Tony Wilson's illness so I'm especially saddened to wake this morning to the news of his death. I never met Tony, but his cultural and musical legacy altered my young life profoundly. Peter Saville's comment is just one of the tributes on the New Order site:
"Tony was an intellectual in popular culture and he brought greatness and importance to it and it was important," he told Newsnight. "He changed it and built it up."

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Thursday, August 9, 2007

Does this surprise anyone?

How Apple's small things influence their big things - (37signals):
Take a look at the back of the iPhone. It’s silver on top, black on the bottom. Then take a look at the new iMac. It’s is black on top, silver on the bottom.

When the iMac G5 launched the design reference was the widescreen iPod: With all of the effort around the iPhone it was inevitable that the new iMac would reflect the industrial design aesthetic of Apple's latest showcase handheld to some extent. What's more surprising, but smart as hell, is how the new iMac bridges the consumer/pro divide in a completely natural way via its aesthetics. Apple is saying to Mac Pro users "This is what computers are meant to be like. You know you want one." And they're right.

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Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Cracking open the new aluminum iMac

This detail is lovely, but begs a question: How do you get inside?
With iMac, details make all the difference. For example, because it’s made from a single sheet of aluminum, you won’t see any seams or screws except for a single compartment on the bottom that provides easy access to the memory slots.

Well wonder no longer, design lovers. The lovely glass panel which sits over the screen (which BTW is a non-glossy panel under shiny glass, AFAIK) is secured by sixteen small magnets. Apple service engineers use a glazier-style suction pad to pull it away from aluminum frame. It's this kind of detail which makes Apple so special.

The one place you won't find a magnet however, is in the side of the case, where the Apple Remote used to hang. You'll need to find some other way of remembering where you put the old-fashioned glossy white plastic remote, which is begging for a shiny metal replacement now, natch.

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Moving Office

With yesterday's announcement of Apple's extended iWork application, this is even more apposite a question. Macworld: Editors' Notes: Reassessing Office's space:
So is Thursday’s announcement of a delayed Office release bad news? Not for Mac users, that I can tell. Whether it’s bad news for Microsoft is another matter altogether.

All I know is that I stopped using Powerpoint on the very same day Keynote landed on my desk, and I was in a 2-presentations-a-day position. I'll be trying Numbers as soon as I can.

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Duly blogged.

Get your people to blog my people.


UPDATE: Stef's organising this design as an actual, non-virtual, shirt right now. Follow the link and leave a comment if you want to order one.

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Monday, August 6, 2007

The future in a tube.

I always knew AA batteries were the future, but I didn't realise how quickly they'd get us there:
Reportedly, the newly revamped Oxyride managed to maintain an average speed of just over 65mph and hit a top speed of 75.8mph, all while being powered by 192 AA batteries. Unsurprisingly, the promotional stunt rocketed Panasonic into the Guinness Book of World Records for speed attained with a vehicle solely driven by dry-cell AA batteries, but we still wouldn't look at purchasing 192 batteries (each way) as an efficient method of powering your commuter car.

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My Avatar appears to be drunk too

Thanks to WG. Very funny, and true: YouTube - second life

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Apple Paperclip

I wish they'd ship one of these with the Apple remote too:
The best part of this whole thing was that after I spent 5 minutes scouring the apartment for a paperclip to open the sim card slot with, I realized Apple was way ahead of me.

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While we're waiting for the iPhone

I think this is already available in the UK:
The iPoor is the most gorgeous and simple phone ever created. Its beautiful, colourful outer casing is bound to turn heads. The huge pink antenna is not only attractive but functional, providing an astonishing 25 foot range.

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Good news for .mac users coming

As part of Tuesday's announcements it would seem. Apple .Mac Welcome:
Due to scheduled maintenance, .Mac members might be intermittently unable to access some .Mac services from 10 AM to 12 PM PDT on 08/07/2007. We apologize for any inconvenience.

Whatever it is, it can't come soon enough.

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Thai Police about to start a new fashion trend

I want to wear a Hello Kitty armband too. Let people guess what I've done wrong.
"This is to help build discipline. We should not let small offences go unnoticed," Police Colonel Pongpat Chayapan told Reuters news agency.

"Guilty officers will be made to wear the armbands in the office for a few days, with instructions not to disclose their offences. Let people guess what they have done," he said.

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Kill switch

There's a storm coming:
So the radio-controlled robots were retooled, for greater safety.   In the past, weak signals would keep the robots from getting orders for as much as eight seconds -- a significant lag during combat.  Now, the SWORDS won't act on a command, unless it's received right away.  A three-part arming process -- with both physical and electronic safeties -- is required before firing.   Most importantly, the machines now come with kill switches, in case there's any odd behavior.  "So now we can kill the unit if it goes crazy," Zecca says.

Thanks to Ray Kurzweil for the heads up.

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The Game's Up

The Secret Diary of Steve Jobs: Damn, I am so busted, yo:
Well it had to happen. Honestly I can't believe it's taken this long. But as you may have heard, I've been busted by a newspaper reporter. My cover has been blown. Guy named Brad Stone, who works for the New York Times. Have you heard of him? Well, tip of the hat to you, Brad Stone. You did the sleuthing. You put the pieces of the puzzle together. You went through my trash, hacked into my computer, and put listening devices in my home. Now you've ruined the mystery of Fake Steve, robbing thousands of people around the world of their sense of childlike wonder. Hope you feel good about yourself, you mangina.

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Grounded, but undiminished

A wonderful, moving portrait of a man who was a hero to me as a 7-year-old in Lane DeGregory's St. Petersburg Times story. Daredevil Evel Knievel comes back to earth:
These days, he says, he doesn't need an adrenaline rush. "The most joy I get now is waking up and wrapping my arms around my wife," he says. "But sometimes she sleeps way over on the other side of the bed and it's hard to get to her. Especially with the dogs between us."

Tuesday, July 31, 2007


Very funny parody ofApple's Quarterly Results Analyst call from Crazy Apple Rumors, including this:
Toward the end of the call, Cook informed everyone that Clarus the dogcow had been hit by a car late last week and had to be put down.

Scroll down to comment #29 where Susan Kare herself chips in!

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Monday, July 30, 2007

Gartenberg gets it right on HD-DVD vs BluRay

Stuart and I were having this very same discussion earlier today. He's thinking of moving from HD-DVD to upscaling and BluRay, but we agreed that there's not necessarily going to be a winner here, and that no-one was really buying either. I think discussing which one is in the lead is a bit like discussing which Linux distro has the biggest consumer desktop share. Michael Gartenberg - The Best is Still the Enemy of the Good:
Bottom line? The real competition here for both formats are not each other, it's DVD in the past and online distribution in the future. If consumers don't see a clear winner this holiday with some real compelling reason to buy, it's likely neither format wins.

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Sunday, July 29, 2007

Facebook Apps Damage Your Health

Not t mention your page load times.Just say no:
What did we learn from this experiment? Well, adding Facebook apps takes a really long time, my poop is currently healthy and Abe Vigoda lives on

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Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Not all plastics are created equal.

This has been something I've had an issues with for some time, and Rui sums it up nicely in his analysis of Nokia's UI problems:
No, my first thought was “800 Euro for this cheap greenish plastic?”

The thing looked like it was made in China (in the dodgy sense, since some of them actually are these days), and, worse of all, felt like it too. And I’m not talking about pre-production samples (I handle plenty of those, and am used to unfinished plastics) – I was handling a commercial device.

Time was when I could go into Carphone Whorehouse and play with the dummy phones secure in the knowledge that the real things felt better - higher quality plastics, better fit and finish, more positive key action - generally all round more like something you'd want to pay money for and actually use on a daily basis. This, however, is no longer a given. In the case of the N95 I've even had salespeople tell me "yes, the real thing feels like crap too".

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Monday, July 23, 2007

Kings of New York

Pundits may be citing Vista as driving PC retail growth, but that hardly accounts for the amazing sales at Apple's NY flagship stores:
Topping the list of highest-grossing locations during the quarter was Apple's subterranean outlet on Fifth Avenue in New York City, which sold over 5 Macs every hour and 1 iPod ever two minutes on its way to generating a whopping $45 million in revenues. Following in a distant second was Fifth Ave's neighboring store in downtown SoHo with approximately $23 million.

Jessops, take note. The Internet doesn't have to eat your lunch, unless you hand it over on a plate.

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Save is Broken

I'm planning on writing more about this very soon. This is only half of the story:
Once a user understands what a file is, there are still some hurdles to overcome. One of the biggest is the concept of "saving." In general, saving means "write the current document state to disk." Somewhat counter-intuitively, saving is typically a destructive operation; when you save, you are usually overwriting the previous version.

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Andrew Orlowski is on a mission

And as usual it seems to involve rubbishing the iPhone:
Now let's compare this to the useful role performed by Apple's original Mac. The Mac UI appeared at a time of character mode interfaces where even getting the simplest job done required considerable investment and study. Computers at the time had several problems with accessibility, interoperability, and general ease-of-use - not to mention getting any kind of print-quality graphics work done - and the Mac provided an elegant interface to them all. By contrast the iPhone, along with so many smartphones, is classic technology "push" - an answer to a problem that doesn't really exist.

Now forgive me if I'm sucked in by the RDF, but from where I'm sitting the mobile phone and mobile data UI is one hell of a mess. Perhaps Andrew's just a lot cleverer than me.

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Power, Influence, Sex

Charlotte Carey at Creative Enterprise digs apart the Birmingham power 50 and unsurprisingly/sadly finds a gender imbalance:
Does this mean there are only 4 influential women in Birmingham? this is not my experience? where are the creative women in Birmingham, why aren't they listed here? and finally what can one do to redress the balance, to highlight and similarly celebrate their contribution?

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Be in no doubt that Solid State storage is about to happen

For general purposes devices that is. Of course your iPhone/nano/DSLR already packs between 4 and 8GB, but at these sizes you can expect your next-but-one generation top-line iPod to whirr-no-more, and your low-end MacBook might not be far off either:
Sure, it's priced at ¥94,980 (around $783), which isn't exactly cheap, but if this trend continues these prices are bound to drop -- and just think of the possibilities of never having to hear a drive mechanism failing again.

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Saturday, July 21, 2007

That Revenge of the Sith feeling

BBC NEWS | Entertainment | Fans finally receive Potter book:
Cahina Lewis, who joined the queue in a witch's costume, said: "For the last nine or 10 years it's been such a big part of my life.

"I've been talking to my friends about Harry Potter theories for so long, and I'm not going to be able to do that anymore. What will I do with my life?"

Kid, it's a tough life. Them's the breaks.

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More idiocy from The Register

Now phishing is Apple's fault too:
The iPhone's email client only displays the first few characters of a weblink, a factor researchers at Fortify Software warn makes it easier to hide a fraudulent URL at the end of a link without arousing suspicion. The mechanism the iPhone uses to link between web browser and telephone functions also makes it easier to embed scam telephone numbers within sites, which a user may be prompted to dial.

So how is that worse than reading a fraudulent phone number from a website and typing it in?

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How Sony might have been Apple

At The Register, but courtesy of the much more insightful Faultline, prepare to be amazed at just how much Sony have futzed up their redesign and rebranding of Grouper Read too about how it might have worked:
How about a website that gives away all 8,000 Sony films, but which has a DRM that we shall call Sony Only, that works with only Sony Bravia TVs, Vaio PCs, PS3s and PSPs? How can there be anything wrong with that strategy, using content to sell hardware, a trick that has driven Apple's valuation to $120bn while Sony, a far larger company by revenues, sits with a lowly $52bn. Oh yes, Sony is in fact six or so interconnected businesses, and they will never agree to that.

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Tuesday, July 17, 2007

37signals, OpenID and .mac

37signals announced that they've extended their OpenID login to Highrise:
Now the Open Bar includes your Highrise accounts too. So now you have single sign-on for both Basecamp and Highrise accounts. Log into any one of your accounts and you’re logged into all your accounts.

It's a good implementation, with a single click between your accounts in both systems, and it's coming soon to Backpack too. I let my .name id lapse when they asked for cash, and I've been holding out on Apple adding OpenID to .mac accounts. Well it turns out that they already sort-of did, by virtue of sharing screen names with AOL and the AIM service. If you've an AIM account you can use it as an OpenID of the form:

I'm delighted to see this extends to .mac screen names too, thus:

I'm still hoping Apple will do it properly, but for now, this works great.

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Monday, July 16, 2007

This is how the iPhone changes the game

The Daily Grind: N95 rubbishness:
Now, I happen to know that there’s a software update for the thing. I can go to Nokia’s website, fumble with their web form, hoik out the phone’s battery (getting good at that now – when the phone warm-boots after a crash the microphone is disabled, requiring another power cycle to get it working again. Yanking the battery saves about a minute of waiting for it to draw cutesy animations that are, I must admit, wearing a little thin), and bash in the multi-digit ID number. At which point Nokia’s website proudly informs me that my phone’s an N95, which I can read in neat stenciled letters on the front of the thing, thanks.

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Thursday, July 5, 2007

Why the new Dock is wrong

Gruber takes the Leopard Dock changes to task:
You might say, Well, so what if the angle is a little different? The difference is that many existing icons now look “not quite right”. Top-notch icon designers sweat over each and every pixel. (Well, maybe not every pixel in the new 512 × 512 icons, but close.) The icon sections in the current HIG take this perfectionism into account; there’s an assumption that yes, Macintosh icons really should look perfect.

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Sunday, July 1, 2007

Joining the dots

Now if they can just scale this up to the size of a plane, traveling to Singapore will be a lot easier:
Researchers at the University of Singapore have demonstrated that it is possible to "teleport" information from one so-called quantum dot to another.
The team used a computer model to show that decoherence, the tendency of quantum information to leak into the environment, is not a problem when working on such a small scale, and that quantum information about one dot can be transferred to another without loss.

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Saturday, June 30, 2007

Rui's teasing us?

He's not saying anything, but we know he works for vodaphone, and he's got a new 3G phone:
Incidentally, I’m taking a short break from work and decided to leave my Blackberry at the office.

Instead, I went and got myself a nice phone with a dark, polished display framed in a rounded metal bezel.

It runs a WebKit-based browser, opens PDFs, syncs perfectly with my MacBook, and… has HSDPA.

Could the announcement be imminent? Or is he toying with us?

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The beginning of the real mobile era

I think Lev Grossman has it about right:
But to look at the iPhone as a laundry list of features and bugs is to miss the point (though if you did, the former would commandingly outweigh the latter). The iPhone isn't just the gadget du jour, it's a fresh new platform, an exceptionally powerful mobile computer that's still in its infancy. There's a full version of Apple's desktop operating system in there. The Palm and the Treo, et al., were merely harbingers of the era of true walk-around mobile computing that Jobs has just inaugurated. Hail to the chief.

For the doubters, this is particularly instructive:

Apple and its partners are just beginning to figure out how to develop for this thing. Look at the iPods of five years ago. That monochrome interface! That klunky moving touchwheel! They look like something a caveman whittled out of a piece of flint using another piece of flint. Now imagine something that's going to make the iPhone look like that. You'll have one in a few years, and it'll be cheaper, too. If you're not ready to think different, then think ahead.

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