A pretty amazing demo of stretchy embedded videos on page. I’m still geeking out over the CSS. Even if you’re not into CSS and front-end design you should click on the demo and resize the browser window. It’s kind of fun watching all the videos stretch.
Victor Agreda Jr. in a piece for TUAW reports from TechCrunch Disrupt that Sparrow, the email client with a “unique” interface, will be adding support for other services. Facebook Connect, LinkedIn, and even Twitter are on the list.
Sparrow promises some future Twitter and LinkedIn integration. Clearly Sparrow isn’t just a Gmail client, it is becoming a powerful messaging and context platform in itself.
This is great news, Sparrow really is a great email client. Anything that can help me avoid using the FaceBook and Google web apps is a step in the right direction.
And for some reason that UI just screams "twitter client" to me. Where have I seen that before? I can’t quite put my finger on it.
Update: I wanted to make it clear that I don’t think the Sparrow guys are doing this without permission. My guess is that the similarities to Tweetie are entirely intentional and encouraged. I just thought that the Tweetie UI completing the full circle back to Twitter was interesting, if not a teensy bit ironic. The current state of the Twitter API power plays, acquisitions, and general crazy only makes it more fun to watch.
In a piece in the Telegraph Matt Warman quotes HP’s European head Eric Cador speaking about their upcoming Touchpad:
In the PC world, with fewer ways of differentiating HP’s products from our competitors, we became number one; in the tablet world we’re going to become better than number one. We call it number one plus.
I don’t want to get pedantic, but here’s the thing: The numbers count down. “One plus” is, well, number two.
One Minus might make more sense, except that’s effectively “number zero,” which makes no sense at all.
We race sometimes at recess, but I never win because I'm a girl.
I don't understand. Why does that matter?
Because boys are faster.
Oh... you think boys are faster.
Do you remember when I told you I used to race people when I was a big kid?
Well I practiced very hard for four years so I could run faster than anyone else. That's a lot of practicing, right?
And even when I got as fast as I will ever ever get, there were still women and young ladies who could run faster than me even if they were wearing a backpack with a heavy lunch in it and heavy shoes.
Why do we even have boys and girls, then?
Because the things that are different about us do something very important. Do you know what that is?
They make new people. Babies.
I want to be fast.
(BULLET DODGED) Then you will be.
I want to be faster than you.
You probably already are.
I want to do everything.
Do you remember when I told you I help people who can't see?
The ones in wheelchairs?
Sometimes, but most of the people I know and who can't see use dogs to help them walk around.
Oh yeah. Special dogs.
Yup. Do you remember how much I want to be able to play the piano?
Well some of those people who can't even see the piano can play it better than I ever will no matter how much I practice.
Boys and girls?
The piano doesn't care who you are. Neither does the ground when you run.
So, I’m trying to train myself to use this Magic Trackpad. I’m getting a little bit better, it doesn’t feel totally frustrating any more. I feel like I can do basic web browsing without slowing down too much.
On the flip side, there are still certain things which confuse me. I’d really love to know how other people are using this device. Here are some of my questions:
I use my index finger to get around, but I’m not sure what to do with my other fingers. Holding them out straight gets tiring fast. When I curl them up I bump the touch pad with my knuckles. And if I just rest them on the pad I get random gestures. What do you do?
On a mouse I click with my index and middle fingers. On the trackpad I can use my thumb to click the bottom, but my thumb is just not very fast or accurate at this. I tried turning on the tap-to-click. Which is better, but lift and tap feels like a lot more effort than just clicking a mouse. What do you do? Thumb or tap?
Accuracy seems to be the biggest problem. I have the fonts in my editors set pretty small I guess (10pt Helvetica). I have a really hard time accurately positioning the cursor between characters. On the mouse I can do this task without effort, even left-handed. Do you have any tricks to getting better accuracy?
I normally leave my arm on my desk to rest and just mouse with the very tips of my fingers in little flicks. When I try to do something similar with the trackpad my index finger can only reach about half of the trackpad. I don’t really want to hold my arm up in the air all day, but i feel like I’m not making use of the device. How do you hold your arm?
Dribbble Buckets allow any Dribbble members to create collections of shots. Translated into non-dribbble-ese, it’s a way for any member, not just designers, to make groups of images that have been posted to Dribbble. Very nice. Very social. And, as usual with Dribbble, the way they’ve built it into the site is pretty slick.
My only complaint about Dribbble is the forced exclusivity of it. Like Groucho says, “I don’t want to belong to any club that will accept people like me as a member.”
Buckets does open Dribble up a tiny bit more. It’s a way for non-designer members to contribute to the community. My hope is that Dribbble sees the value of the wider community outweighs the costs and continues to move in this direction.
So I’m just sitting in this cafe drinking my cappuccino, right. Just minding my own business, reading my email and stuff, when I hear a conversation drift in about a tablet the guy next to me is fiddling with. One guys says to the other,
"Hey, is that an iPad?"
"No. It’s a PlayBook."
"Oh, that’s the one from the BlackBerry guys?"
"Yeah, it’s great."
"Oh yeah, I read a few reviews. It looked interesting."
"Oh, well, the reviews aren’t too great. I guess because it’s missing some apps. You know, like email. But it’s got a full Flash browser, so you don’t even need it!"
I politely left before my hysterical laughter interrupted anyone else.
It means that unless Twitterrific and the rest issue updates to their apps by Twitter’s deadline of “the end of this month,” those apps will soon be unable to display or send your direct messages.
Actually, if I understand things correctly (and I’m not sure I do) unchanged clients would still be able to send direct messages, but would be unable to view them. A one-way direct message is pretty useless, though, so it’s really just a technicality.
Friedman also mentions yours truly is a bit melancholy. Not sure why.
snif. snif. what? shut up. i have something in my eye!
The best piece on Twitter’s xAuth policy change was written by Gruber. It’s almost three pages long and written only a short time after the news dropped, but it covers each detail. If you read one thing about the Twitter craziness then this is the piece to read.
I was sent this interesting article from some friends. They asked seriously if they should stop using Dropbox because of this “security problem.”
The article spends an entire page setting the stage for a climactic security breach reveal, as if they were about to expose something truly awful or sinister.
In the end, though, we find that Dropbox has a security policy that allows for a small number of employees to have a master key to the system for dealing with extreme extenuating circumstances.
To comply with a law, regulation or compulsory legal request; (b) protect the safety of any person from death or serious bodily injury; (c) prevent fraud or abuse of Dropbox or its users; or (d) to protect Dropbox’s property rights.
This is essentially the same as a bank retaining the right to drill out the locks of your safe deposit box if the FBI comes knocking or they think you’re storing C4 in it. Neither the bank manager nor the Dropbox executives are going to risk their own necks if the FBI gets interested in you.
This is not news worthy information. This is a run of the mill security policy and a trumped up headline. Nothing to see here. Move along.
Daring Fireball noted that Dropbox has changed their security policy as the result of this. I agree that the change paints an ugly picture. I guess what I disagree with is the assumption that their earlier security policy was accurate.
Here’s the bottom line: If someone with a lot of money or power wants your stuff, they’ll take it. Security policies, strong encryption, and that ever-pesk rule of law are not huge obstacles for those with means. If you have something very important or very private, maybe think about keeping it on your own machine.
Mike Lee has a good breakdown of exactly why the Lodsys cases are more than just the run of the mill legal posturing.
If using a platform-provided API is not free from the odious weight of software patents, then software development as a cottage industry is no longer practicable. Make no mistake, Lodsys demonstrates that software patents threaten our very way of life.
Mike makes a solid argument that this lawsuit may act as a precedent allowing more litigation against small developers.
The NSConference videos are available now. Hours of sessions from the best mac developers in the Cocoa community. More good news, it looks like you get the whole conference in one bundle — something I begged for last year. Even better, for a little while, it’s on sale for $99. Amazing deal.
I’m no shill. This is a good deal. I bought it as soon as could. My receipt:
"developers ask us if they should build client apps that mimic or reproduce the mainstream Twitter consumer client experience. The answer is no."
Afterwards there was some backpedalling, so maybe existing clients are OK. Kiwi seems to be grandfathered in, so the news isn’t quite as grim as it first appears. Ryan’s a nice guy, I suspect the delivery was quite a bit more blunt than he intended. Still, the writing on the wall is clear: 3rd party clients are not wanted.
The Money Equation
There was a time when you could knock out the basic Twitter functions in a weekend. Things have changed. Building a Twitter client is no longer easy. Streaming API, multiple accounts, filters, themes, custom UI and the thousands of other tiny details have made it difficult. Building a full-featured Twitter client takes thousands of hours from both designers and developers. Risking that much time, energy, and cash is a scary wager. It essential that the platform you’re working on is eager for your app, eager to help you get to market, and eager for you to reap your well earned rewards.
Twitter appears, for the moment, to be tolerant, but not eager. Investing in the Twitter platform is a tough sell. It’s a long shot at best.
The Fun Equation
To be honest, the financials are never my primary goal. Don’t get me wrong, getting rich doing what I enjoy would be a dream come true. But, I’m perfectly content with more moderate success of paying a few bills.
The thing that keeps me working into the wee hours every night is that it’s fun, that tons of people enjoy it, and that it excites everyone.
Twitter, has been slowly chipping away at the fun:
I honestly don’t know. I’m just going to take a break from Kiwi for a while. It’s still for sale. I still support it. I’ll still fix bugs when they crop up. But adding new features and playing catch up with the other guys/gals is off the table.
For now, it’s time to freeze Kiwi in carbonite. With a little luck maybe a rogue jedi will thaw him out later.
The sad truth is that my spelling is so poor that autocorrect is more of a hindrance than an aid. I know that all of you good-spelling, scrabble-playing, boggle-enjoying types probably won’t even believe this, but it’s true. More often than not the first few guesses of the spelling checker are not the word that I intended. With autocorrect turned on by default in iOS and soon to be that way in Mac OS X too, I find myself having to do a lot more careful editing to find the random words that have been hidden inside of my paragraphs.
Mike Eaton wrote a though provoking article on how some of the brightest minds are being siphoned off to earn a quick buck on social networking, SEO marketing, and ad revenue.
While I don’t disagree with the premise or the facts, I see ad money, social-media “experts,” and other get-rich-quick schemes as an ugly sign that we’ve done something very right.
I left my thoughts in his comments, but just in case they get moderated away, here’s what I said:
Your viewpoint seems to bend a bit to the cynical to me. Advertising, marketing, and social networking is a huge source for capital right now, but this situation isn’t exactly new. Ad companies drove big dollars to radio, Hollywood, print, TV, and now to the latest technologies, social networking and the web in general. The simple fact is that there are a lot of folks willing to pay to send a message to other folks. This fact has not, and probably will not, change much — at least not soon.
But whereas you see this as a bad thing, I see this as a sign of a healthy industry. The reason this money is now aimed right at “us” is that some big engineering has brought about one of the most tectonic shifts in communication in human history. In the past ten years communication technology has advanced on every front imaginable: more wireless bandwidth, longer lasting batteries, touch interfaces, social graphs, user interfaces, and infrastructure on many fronts — leading us to communication ubiquity that’s nothing short of amazing.
And that is exactly why the marketing, SEO, and ad companies are after us. We’ve created something amazing. We’ve changed communication, for the better, for good.
You are right, of course, that there are thousands of posers, fakes, and “experts” that have come along for the ride. My optimistic viewpoint is that these guys are just a temporary annoyance. When the dust settles they’ll parasitically attach themselves to the next big thing.
But don’t worry, those leaches like us because we look like a healthy host, not because we’re sick.
A great post from Lukas Mathis about unsolicited redesigns:
What you usually do not see, however, is the original designer answering, and explaining the rationale behind the original design.
The bottom line is, as always, don’t be a dick:
So perhaps doing unsolicited redesigns is okay after all. Just don’t be a dick about it, and keep in mind that you’re probably missing fundamental details and constraints that caused the original design to look the way it does.
I watched the Chrome presentation at Google I/O this morning. In short, it was very good. I feel like Chrome is the Google I remember: simple, powerful, pure tech. But about an hour later as the distortion field subsided I was left with a few questions.
Why a laptop and not a tablet?
Chrome seems like it would be perfect for a tablet. Considering all the new tablets that just came out, it seems like it would be perfect.
What about video?
Uploading a day’s worth of big images to remote servers before being able to work with them seems like a bit of a pain. But 30 minutes of raw HD video? That’s a whole mess of bits. While I don’t doubt the feasibility, it just doesn’t sound fun in practice.
Flash and long battery life? Seriously?
We heard how the battery lasts a really long time. But in my experience flash running on any laptop tends to make a good lap warmer. If real world testing also includes a few flash games and watching Hulu — does the battery really last a long time?
In the past few years Apple has been redesigning some of their big products, throwing out successful apps and starting over from scratch. They rebuilt iMovie in ‘08, XCode 4 last year, and Final Cut Pro is due out soon.
The iMovie redesign was a disaster, replacing one of the best consumer software products Apple had with a confusing toy. After a couple of substantial updates it remains a pale shadow of the original. The jury is still out on XCode, but some well respected developers are definitely nonplussed. I’m trying to stay optimistic about Final Cut Pro, but its not easy.
Every engineer wants to redesign from scratch and get their chance to build from the ground up. Every engineer hears a nagging little voice that says, “Just start over. You’ll do it better.”
That the little voice is wrong. That’s the voice of hubris. Don’t listen to that voice.
Here’s the thing: you may do a great job and fix every problem you see, but you’ll throw out all the brilliant solutions to all the problems you never knew you had.
For every successful product gamble, there are hundreds that rolled the dice and got unlucky. Starting again means putting your chips back on the table and taking another roll. Ask yourself one question, “Do I feel lucky?” Well, do you?