cloudseer + shared   598

Why Rounded Corners are Easier on the Eyes
Anthony Tseng on why rounded-corner rectangles in Web design are attractive, and it’s not just because they’re a current design trend.

✚ Permalink
shared  from google
november 2011 by cloudseer
✚ My Very First DMCA Takedown Notice
One thing I’ve learned during my relatively short stint as a guy who sells something on the Internet is that people steal. A lot. Every now and then, I’ll do a Google search for the name of my ebook (or the filename of the download itself) and I’ll be staring at a big list of document hosting sites, Bit Torrent trackers and other such business. I would be lying if I said that my heart doesn’t sink a little when I see this stuff; not because of the lost revenue (which sucks), but in response to how quickly my fellow human beings will screw each other as long as they’re fairly confident they won’t get pinched.

As much as this bugs me, I’ve never felt like I had much recourse. Admittedly, I haven’t sent many sternly-worded emails to the operators of the sites illegally hosting my stuff, but that’s only because I was fairly certain I wouldn’t get a response. Perhaps I’m just cynical.

But all this is sorta beside the point.

A couple of weeks ago, I was doing one of the aforementioned “vanity searches” for my ebook and came across the entire document available for viewing on Scribd, a place where you can host documents, share them, etc. I’ve known about the site for awhile, but had never used it. Anyway, seeing my PDF up there was, as usual, frustrating.

Just for shits and giggles, though, I scrolled down to the site footer and found a link called “Copyright”, which I visited. The page briefly described what to do if you find material that infringes on a copyright. Turns out, you have to issue a DMCA Copyright Infringement Takedown Notification, which I’d heard of but always imagined needing a lawyer to put together. Turns out, it’s this teensy half-page document that a partially inebriated chimp could fill out between Jager bombs.

I downloaded the template, dropped in my name, email and street addresses and the URL where the infringing content lived, then pasted the whole mess into an email and sent it off.

About 6 minutes later, I got an email from a guy named Jason at Scribd informing me that my request had been received and that the document had been removed. Wow.

Clearly, it doesn’t always work this way. I imagine many, many notices like mine are received every day and immediately deleted without any action being taken. I must say, though, that I’m really impressed with Scribd. I don’t know that I’ll ever have much use for their services, but I’m happy to know that they’re taking this copyright bullcrap seriously.

I guess the big takeaway here is that it may be worth the time to fight back. Maybe.
Articles  shared  from google
november 2011 by cloudseer
Import from Google Reader
I've made it possible to import all your shared or starred articles from Google Reader into Pinboard. You can find step-by-step instructions for this on the import page,
shared  from google
november 2011 by cloudseer
Real Security in Mac OS X Requires Apple-Signed Certificates
Wil Shipley:

There are three primary ways Apple increases security of
applications running on the Mac and the iPhone: Sandboxing, Code
Auditing, and Certification. While all these are incrementally
valuable, none is perfect on its own.

The problem Mac developers are facing is that the two that Apple
is enforcing on the Mac App Store (Sandboxing and Code Auditing)
are implemented currently to be actively bad for developers and
not particularly good for users. And the method that would provide
the most benefit for developers and users (Certification) isn’t
enforced broadly enough to be useful.

A thoughtful, detailed, and well-reasoned argument. Let’s hope Apple is listening.

shared  from google
november 2011 by cloudseer
Quick little UI feedback tip
Sometimes when I’m giving feedback on a UI, and I’m pointing out a spacing detail, I upload a little screenshot to Basecamp or Campfire to help make sure the feedback is clear.

I wanted to share a little tweak to the feedback which I think is ultimately more useful. In this example I’m pointing out that the space above and below an element is not equal (and I think it should be).

I used to do it like this:

Two lines. One line above the element (text, in this case) extending to the next element above it, and one line below the element extending to the next element below it. The length of the lines shows the different spacing. That works, but the difference – especially when we’re talking about small units of pixels – isn’t as clear as it could be.

Then I switched to doing it like this:

Blocks like this are easier to see than thin one pixels lines. This is an improvement. But it’s still not as clear as it could be because it’s not as easy to judge the comparative volume of a rectangle as it is a square. So…

This is how I do it now:

The same vertical distance is covered, but now, since both blocks are perfect squares, we have related horizontal distance which helps you see how much bigger the difference is.

Why not just say 24px vs 35px? Because I want to point out the physical difference, not the exact number of pixels. If we’re just talking numbers then it’s easy to assume 24px or 35px is right. But maybe the final size is 27px or 31px. I don’t want to get stuck on numbers when I provide feedback like this. The final number isn’t important as long as it’s the same (and it looks right).

I hope this was helpful.
shared  from google
november 2011 by cloudseer
The Long-Term Failure of Web APIs
Years ago, when developers such as myself started the transition away from OS-specific APIs to web APIs, we believed that doing so would empower our software and save it from the confines of the desktop.

And we were right.

But we've also learned that while web APIs enable us to tap into a wealth of data, they can only be relied upon in the short term. The expiration date of software we create has been shortened due to the whims of those who create the web APIs we rely on.

I wrote the first version of HomeSite back in 1994, and seventeen years later I can still run it on the latest version of Windows.

I created FeedDemon 1.0 in 2003, and it was the first app I wrote that relied on web APIs. Now those APIs no longer exist, and almost every version of FeedDemon since then has required massive changes due to the shifting sands of the web APIs I've relied on.

You might think you're immune to this problem if you only integrate with APIs created by large players such as Twitter, Facebook and Google. But in recent years we've seen Twitter switch to a new authentication system, Facebook deprecate FBML, and Google discontinue several APIs. All of these changes have broken, or will break, existing apps.

The end result is that developers are spending more time upgrading their software to ensure that it continues to work with web APIs they've integrated with, and less time adding the features and refinements that would really benefit their customers.

That's a long-term failure, any way you look at it.
Software  Web/Tech  shared  from google
november 2011 by cloudseer
CNet: The Inside Story of How Microsoft Killed Its Courier Tablet
Interesting reporting by Jay Greene for CNet, but I’m not buying it that Courier was near completion. This, to me, is damning:

When Courier died, there was not a single prototype that contained
all of the attributes of the vision: the industrial design, the
screen performance, the software experience, the correct weight,
and the battery life. Those existed individually, created in
parallel to keep the development process moving quickly. Those
prototypes wouldn’t have come together into a single unit until
very late in the development process, perhaps weeks before
manufacturing, which is common for cutting-edge consumer
electronics design. But on the team, there was little doubt that
they were moving quickly toward that final prototype.

“We were on the cusp of something really big,” said one Courier
team member.

One prototype that looks right, one with the right screen, one that has the right software, one that has the right weight, and one with the right battery life. Just mash them all together in a few weeks and you’re done. Sure.

shared  from google
november 2011 by cloudseer
I think I’m in love.

shared  from google
november 2011 by cloudseer
How Apple is Organized
Apple is organized around functions, rather than divisions:

The result is a command-and-control structure where ideas are shared at the top — if not below. Jobs often contrasts Apple’s approach with its competitors’. Sony (SNE), he has said, had too many divisions to create the iPod. Apple instead has functions. “It’s not synergy that makes it work” is how one observer paraphrases Jobs’ explanation of Apple’s approach. “It’s that we’re a unified team.”

Specialization is the norm at Apple, and as a result, Apple employees aren’t exposed to functions outside their area of expertise. Jennifer Bailey, the executive who runs Apple’s online store, for example, has no authority over the photographs on the site. Photographic images are handled companywide by Apple’s graphic arts department. Apple’s powerful retail chief, Ron Johnson, doesn’t control the inventory in his stores. Tim Cook, whose background is in supply-chain management, handles inventory across the company. (Johnson has plenty left to do, including site selection, in-store service, and store layout.)

This doesn’t just mean that the best person is handling a specific task (like the photos in Apple’s online store)—it also means that the company is interwoven and has no choice but to work together. Rather than have engineering lay out the specifications for a new product, hand it off to the design department so they can create a design that meets them, and then hand it off to marketing, Apple instead integrates design, engineering and marketing from the beginning of the process.

There’s a lot to learn from Apple’s corporate and business strategies, but I think there is even more to learn from how the company’s organized. Apple is defining how companies must be organized and managed to succeed in this century.
Apple  business  links  shared  from google
october 2011 by cloudseer
The Effect of Consuming News at Work
Professor Pablo Boczkowski on news consumption…: This is from a professor who has studied public news consumption.  He talks in the video, and the transcript is below.
The entire thing is interesting, but I particularly liked this point:
The people who tend to work in an office environment, with other coworkers, and get the news online at work, tend to identify the consumption of online news with the workplace. So when they leave the office, right, because there is that symbolic association between the consumption of news and the workplace, they don’t want, when they’re at home, or it’s the weekend, they don’t want to get the news online.
So, our ability to consume news at work (which, let’s face it, is somewhat unique to the last decade), affects how we “place” news in our life and how we perceive it in relating to us.  News becomes a “business” concern, rather than a “personal” concern.
I can’t even speculate on the long-term implications of that.

Click here to comment on this entry
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october 2011 by cloudseer
→ The next disruptive iPhone feature? High definition audio calls
Matthew Panzarino speculates on a possible “VoiceTime” feature in the future:

But the fact is that the voice technology used by most cell phone carriers hasn’t received much attention, as the concentration has been on building out data networks and coverage areas.

So now is the time for someone to improve the voice quality of our phones, and cut one more cord away while they’re at it.

This is a great idea.

Cellular voice transmission, like satellite radio and digital cable TV, lives in the sad world of extreme bandwidth conservation: it’s compressed, processed, and crushed down to the minimum quality threshold that customers will tolerate. (And then they crush it a little bit more, because what are you going to do about it, really?)

As we see with FaceTime, the iPhone’s hardware is capable of much higher audio quality if the bandwidth is available.

A theoretical “VoiceTime” feature implemented like FaceTime — a separate type of call that people must select each time — would be interesting.

But an implementation like iMessage, where it could switch over automatically whenever both ends of a call are compatible, and we’d all just start using fewer voice minutes… that would be the kind of ballsy move that I hope the post-Steve Apple keeps making.

∞ Permalink
shared  from google
october 2011 by cloudseer
Apple Lossless Audio Codec Now Open Source

The Apple Lossless Audio Codec project contains the sources for
the ALAC encoder and decoder. Also included is an example command
line utility, called alacconvert, to read and write audio data
to/from Core Audio Format (CAF) and WAVE files. A description of a
‘magic cookie’ for use with files based on the ISO base media file
format (e.g. MP4 and M4A) is included as well.


shared  from google
october 2011 by cloudseer
Bloomberg TV+ for iPad
This is the future of TV. The full Bloomberg news channel, free of charge, on your iPad. Apps are the new channels.

shared  from google
october 2011 by cloudseer
★ The Just-Buy-Our-Devices Model
Tim Bajarin, “Why Google and Microsoft Hate Siri”:

Yes, Siri is an important product for enhancing our user interface
with the iPhone. But Siri is in its infancy. When it grows up, it
will be the front end to all types of searches conducted on
iPhones, iPads, Mac’s and even Apple TV. And, if I were Google
or Microsoft, perhaps I too would be playing down the impact of
Siri since they know full well that it is not just a threat to
their product platforms, but to their core businesses of search as
well. In fact, they should be quaking in their boots since Apple
is taking aim at their cash cow search businesses with their
technology and could very well impact their fortunes dramatically
in the future.

I think it’s a stretch to call search one of Microsoft’s “core businesses”. They’re still losing money — a lot of money, consistently, quarter after quarter — in their online services division. But they wouldn’t be sticking with it if they didn’t see it as a future core business.

For Apple’s investors, the call for them to start paying
dividends on their cash hoard is too short-sighted. Instead, they
should be encouraging Apple to start buying up as many databases
and services they can and begin the process of entrenching
Siri’s role as the first line of offense when searching for a
product and service and get the search ad revenue from this for
themselves. I believe that if they do this, they could probably
add another $3-$5 billion in quarterly revenue to their already
healthy business model within three years, as search becomes
another profit center for Apple.

I think Bajarin is correct that Siri is a huge deal, and that if it truly thrives, it will adversely affect traditional web search like Google and Bing. But I can’t see Apple monetizing it through advertising. That’s tacky.

I see Apple “monetizing” Siri simply as a way to sell more devices — more iPhones now, more iPads (and who knows, maybe Macs?) in the future. Siri could be the interface to future products, like tiny little Nano-sized devices, or home entertainment systems. Google’s ad-driven model disrupted Microsoft’s pay-for-software-licenses model. Apple’s just-buy-our-devices-and-look-at-all-the-cool-shit-you-get-with-them model could disrupt Google’s ad-driven model.

Microsoft’s model was: you’d buy a device, then pay for licenses for Microsoft software. Google’s disruption was: hey, you don’t need to pay for Microsoft software if you’re willing to put up with our non-blinking mostly-text ads. Apple’s model is: you don’t even need to see those ads, just buy your devices from us. (Although you could argue that with the App Store, Apple is circling back to the pay-for-more-software model. But that’s not really a profit center for Apple.)

Siri doesn’t need to lead to advertising in order to add to Apple’s bottom line. Consider iCloud — Apple now offers free-of-charge online services ad-free. It’s a sunk cost in the name of the overall experience for Apple device buyers.
shared  from google
october 2011 by cloudseer
What the Upcoming Google Reader Changes Mean for FeedDemon
Yesterday Google announced some big changes to Google Reader which will impact FeedDemon (and every other application that uses the unofficial Google Reader API).

In an effort to better integrate with Google+, Reader is retiring friending, following and shared link blogs. That means the social features in FeedDemon that rely on Google Reader will eventually stop working.

They won't stop working right away, though. Google will continue to support those features in its API even after they disappear from Reader's UI. But at some point (I don't know when yet) they will cease to function, and you'll be unable to share articles in FeedDemon or follow the shared articles of other users.

Before that happens, I'll release a new version of FeedDemon that removes those features. But I won't do that until the new Reader goes live and I have a chance to test against it, which will likely take a few weeks.

I am, of course, disappointed to see those features disappear. I know a lot of FeedDemon customers will miss them, and I'll personally mourn the loss of shared articles since that's something I use every day.
FeedDemon  shared  from google
october 2011 by cloudseer
Trash It
Just watched my friend get a new phone. An Android.He, like most, started installing new applications and having fun and then, like most, decided to uninstall some. He kept complaining to me that he couldn't get them to uninstall, he said he'd keep trying and they wouldn't go away. Finally, I asked him what was happening? He explained he was uninstalling it but they wouldn't go away.So I watched him do it. He opened the home menu, grabbed an application icon by pressing and holding, the icon then "floats" as this functionality was used to drop icons on the "desktop" view. So he took the icon and dropped it onto the trashcan that appeared.It was a priceless moment."Trash" is for getting rid of something and that's what he wanted to do. After all, on his windows machine or even an Mac you drag stuff into the "trash" or "recycle" to get rid of it. Now, my fix for this would be a pop-up asking whether they wanted to simply delete the icon or uninstall the application but that seems a bit cumbersome....A completely valid interpretation of the interface, in my opinion.
uninstall  confusion  trash  android  shared  from google
october 2011 by cloudseer
How to bring good design to a platform
Demonstrate from the top that high quality and attention to detail are prioritized and appreciated above everything else, including being the first to market, having the most features, or having the most aggressive prices. If you can get those as well, that’s great, but quality will not be sacrificed to do so.
Instill these values in your staff. If you can’t, hire a staff for which you can. Better yet, hire a staff for which you don’t need to.
Aggressively pursue simplification, elegance, craftsmanship, and the highest-class user experiences in the product line. Ruthlessly cut or hold features or entire products that aren’t good enough.
Make it pretty.

How not to bring good design to a platform

Skip steps 1–3 above.
shared  from google
october 2011 by cloudseer
The Amazing Type-Writer
My favorite new iPhone app in months. It’s a cross between a painstakingly skeuomorphic old-timey typewriter and an-Instagram-ish public gallery for sharing your output. Great fun with a price that blows the competition out of the water.

shared  from google
october 2011 by cloudseer
Introducing Instapaper 4.0 for iPad and iPhone
This is a big update. (Impatient? App Store link.)


The iPad browsing interface has been completely redesigned to feel more at home in the iPad environment. Instead of just being a blown-up full-screen list, it’s now a more touch-friendly grid, with all navigation available in any orientation:

The iPad list screen

On iPhone, the navigation has also been unified and restyled:

The iPhone list screens


The iPhone reading screens also no longer show the top status bar by default (but there’s an option to put it back). This gives a larger, less distracting reading area without sacrificing easy access to the toolbar or annoying customers with finicky full-screen tap modes.

The iPhone reading screen (dark mode, right)

Want to check the time periodically without leaving the status bar visible all the time? Just tap the Actions button in the toolbar and the status bar will slide in.

Articles from many sites now display the site title, author name, and published date when available:

(Availability of author, title, and date information will increase over time.)

The scroll bar on the right side is now draggable: simply touch the indicator for a moment to activate it, then drag to quickly scroll through an article. With the small activation delay, you won’t accidentally invoke it when scrolling normally, but it’s easy to activate when you want to.

Reading at night in dark mode is now even better, because under iOS 5, Instapaper now supports true hardware brightness control. Adjustable brightness is now also available on iPhone for the first time:

To finally end the long-standing confusion and debates between Archiving and Deleting articles, they now peacefully coexist everywhere:

When you’ve Liked an article, the Delete option is not shown, since deleting it would also remove it from your Liked list.


Selecting text and tapping Define can now look up terms in Wikipedia (online) in addition to the offline dictionary:


Footnotes from most websites are now converted to a “…” button that shows them in a popover so you don’t need to jump to the bottom to read them:

This is a huge improvement in the usefulness of footnotes while reading. Showing similar popups with Javascript to all web browsers should really be a feature of all blogging software that generates footnotes.


Articles can now be multi-selected, like Apple’s Mail and Photos apps, for archiving, deleting, or moving to folders:


Instead of just showing Liked articles from online friends who use Instapaper, the Friends panel can now show all links posted to your Facebook news feed, Twitter timeline, or Tumblr Dashboard:

So even if your friends don’t use Instapaper as much as you do, you can still find plenty of great articles to read.

For more great articles, the Editors section has been rewritten. Now sourced exclusively from Give Me Something To Read (a.k.a. Editor’s Picks), the new interface is faster to load, faster to browse, and faster to save articles to read later:


Instapaper now has a true search feature, available as part of the $1/month Subscription.

Subscribers can now search the full contents of every article they’ve ever saved to Instapaper: unread, filed into folders, or in the Archive. (Deleted items can’t be searched because they’re really deleted.)

The new search feature is built right into the app:

(This replaces the old downloaded-articles-only search in the app.)

Search is available for all Subscribers in the app today. It will be available on the website next week.

You can also now subscribe via In-App Purchase. It’s called Search Subscription. The website Subscription and the new Search Subscription in the app are the same thing, with the same features, just purchased in different ways: either PayPal or In-App Purchase.

App Directory

The new App Directory showcases apps that integrate with Instapaper in various ways, such as sending articles to Instapaper or receiving links and selected text from the Share panel:

And more

Other changes in the 4.0 app:

Articles in the list or grid can be swiped to reveal a quick action menu
The in-article styling has been improved
New settings can customize the number of Liked/Archived articles stored on device
The iPhone font (ᴀA) panel has been redesigned to be like iPad’s
The iPhone share forms for Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, Pinboard, and Evernote have been redesigned
YouTube URLs now open in the system’s YouTube app
A new setting has been added to use Apple’s dictionary under iOS 5
Tilt scrolling is now smoother and works better in all orientations
The Share panel can now send to Tweetbot and The Hit List
When updating, the entire table no longer reloads after each article downloads. It now just reloads once after the main update request, showing all (even un-downloaded) articles, and they enable themselves as they get downloaded.
Tons of performance improvements and bugfixes
New icon

This is a great update. Download it now.
shared  from google
october 2011 by cloudseer
Sharing an Apple ID With Your Family
Fantastic article that I was really hoping somebody would write.

Links  shared  from google
october 2011 by cloudseer
Google Engineer: “Google+ is a Prime Example of Our Complete Failure to Understand Platforms”

Yegge makes a cogent argument and I find it strangely impressive that he’s got the huevos to make a statement like this (which, if I understand it, was meant to be shared with all of Google, internally).

But, still. Wow.

(via 512px)

Links  shared  from google
october 2011 by cloudseer
This is going to be a problem:

(Screenshot by someone on Twitter two weeks ago. I can’t find the tweet now — sorry.)

Every iOS app has its own “home” directory where it can store files. Every file and directory that an app puts there, except anything in a Caches or tmp directory, gets backed up when you sync your device to iTunes.

Prior to iOS 5, the system never deleted the contents of Caches and tmp, so they were safe places for apps to put data that should always be available but could be redownloaded if the user did a complete restore or otherwise lost all data, and therefore shouldn’t be taking up space in backups and slowing down syncs.

In iOS 5, since iCloud backups are now possible, Apple has started cracking down on apps that store too much in any backed-up directory, such as Documents. Many developers have recently received emails from Apple like this:

In recent testing it appears that [your app] stores a fair amount of data in its Documents folder.

Since iCloud backups are performed daily over Wi-Fi for each user’s iOS device, it’s important to ensure the best possible user experience by minimizing the amount of data being stored by your app.

In addition to purchased music, apps, books, Camera roll, and device settings, everything in your app’s home directory, including its Documents folder, is backed up to iCloud.

Data stored in the application bundle itself, the caches directory, and the temp directory is not backed up to iCloud. Your app should store data in these locations according to the iCloud Data Storage Guidelines on <>.

Please review these guidelines, make any required changes to your app, and submit an update to the App Store.

And that documentation page makes it pretty clear:

Only documents and other data that is user-generated, or that cannot otherwise be recreated by your application, should be stored in the <Application_Home>/Documents directory and will be automatically backed up by iCloud.
Data that can be downloaded again or regenerated should be stored in the <Application_Home>/Library/Caches directory. Examples of files you should put in the Caches directory include database cache files and downloadable content, such as that used by magazine, newspaper, and map applications.

Sounds easy: just move anything that can be redownloaded to Caches.

Instapaper has stored its downloaded articles in Caches for years, since I didn’t want to slow down iTunes syncing for my customers or enlarge their backups unnecessarily, and full restores don’t happen often enough for it to be a problem for most people. This new policy now locks me into using Caches: I no longer have a choice.

But in iOS 5, there’s an important change: Caches and tmp — the only two directories that aren’t backed up — are “cleaned” out when the device is low on space.

A handful of developers reported this problem happening to them with Instapaper before iOS 5 was even released to the public — I’m dreading the influx of reports about this now that iOS 5 is available to everyone.

There’s no longer anywhere to store files that don’t need to be backed up (or can’t be, by the new policy) but shouldn’t be randomly deleted. This is problematic for lots of apps, including this quick list off the top of my head:

Instapaper and anything that saves web articles for offline reading
Ebook and comic-book apps (including iBooks, if the rules apply to it)
Podcast clients (the rules don’t apply to synced podcasts from iTunes)
Offline Wikipedia apps
Offline mapping programs

The common theme is offline. It’s easy to assume that this isn’t a big problem — that surely, anything downloadable can be redownloaded at any time. But that’s not the case.

A common scenario: an Instapaper customer is stocking up an iPad for a long flight. She syncs a bunch of movies and podcasts, downloads some magazines, and buys a few new games, leaving very little free space. Right before boarding, she remembers to download the newest issue of The Economist. (I think highly of my customers.) This causes free space to fall below the threshold that triggers the cleaner, which — in the background, unbeknownst to her — deletes everything that was saved in Instapaper. Later in the flight, with no internet connectivity, she goes to launch Instapaper and finds it completely empty.

(Last week, almost this exact scenario happened to one of my customers.)

It creates a terrible experience for everyone:

She has nothing to read. (She already finished The Economist.)
My app appears to have failed and deleted her data, which makes it seem unreliable and decreases her opinion of it. If I’m lucky, she’ll email support and I’ll at least get a chance to explain myself. She’ll probably either be quietly dissatisfied or leave a 1-star review in the App Store telling everyone else that my app is unreliable and deletes data without warning, which will decrease my sales (and Apple’s 30% of those sales).
She had a terrible experience on her iPad, which now seems less reliable as a whole, which reflects poorly on Apple and iOS.

It gets worse as you consider how often redownloading data isn’t a good option or isn’t even possible:

Devices that are offline during large parts of the day, such as iPod Touches and Wi-Fi iPads
3G devices roaming internationally
Any devices, even on Wi-Fi, connected to a network with expensive data transfer or with a low monthly transfer limit (a common scenario outside the U.S.)
Devices in rural areas, where even the best home “broadband” connections available are very slow and can’t redownload hundreds of megs quickly
Devices that are about to be carried out of Wi-Fi range when the owner realizes that his content has been deleted but he’s about to be late for work or the kids are getting rained on after soccer practice or the dog is about to explode and he needs to leave right now

But even with available, fast, unlimited internet connectivity, randomly deleting an app’s data is still a problem:

When customers save an article with Instapaper, get a book in iBooks, or download a podcast with Instacast, they expect it to be there next time they launch the app. Even though it’s technically redownloadable, customers see that as their data — they put it there, and it’s theirs to remove if and when they see fit.

When the cleaner wipes it out, it appears that the app has failed and deleted their data. And customers won’t know that it’s an iOS 5 behavior — they’ll understandably blame the app developers. Even though it’s not our fault, it’s certainly going to become our problem.

There needs to be a file storage location that behaves the way Caches did before iOS 5: it’s not backed up to iTunes or iCloud, it’s not synced, but it’s also never deleted unless the app is deleted.
shared  from google
october 2011 by cloudseer
Speaking of Grains of Salt Regarding Businessweek Stories
From a Peter Burrows piece for Businessweek, “Working With Steve Jobs”, interviewing former AOL CEO Barry Schuler:

Steve Jobs was a genius, but he knew his limits.

“He was never a guy who tried to make believe he had expertise
in something,” said Barry Schuler, now a partner at venture
capital firm Draper Fisher Jurvetson.

That was clear to Schuler when he got a call from Jobs in early
1997 to come over to his old offices at NeXT Software in Redwood
City, Calif. Jobs, at that point, hadn’t yet agreed to run Apple
on a permanent basis.

“What’s this Internet thing?” Schuler recalled Jobs asking.
“I don’t get it. What are people doing on it? What do they
like about it?”

Steve Jobs didn’t get the Internet? In 1997? OK, sure. Here’s Steve Jobs, in his classic interview with Wired in 1996:

The Web is exciting for two reasons. One, it’s ubiquitous. There
will be Web dial tone everywhere. And anything that’s ubiquitous
gets interesting. Two, I don’t think Microsoft will figure out a
way to own it. There’s going to be a lot more innovation, and that
will create a place where there isn’t this dark cloud of
dominance. […]

If you look at things I’ve done in my life, they have an element
of democratizing. The Web is an incredible democratizer. A small
company can look as large as a big company and be as accessible as
a big company on the Web. Big companies spend hundreds of millions
of dollars building their distribution channels. And the Web is
going to completely neutralize that advantage.

Yeah, he didn’t get it at all.

Update: Here’s Jobs in 1985 — 1985! — in his classic interview with Playboy:

The most compelling reason for most people to buy a computer for
the home will be to link it into a nationwide communications
network. We’re just in the beginning stages of what will be a
truly remarkable breakthrough for most people — as remarkable as
the telephone.

Thanks to John Siracusa for the link.

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october 2011 by cloudseer
→ The Steve Jobs I Knew
Walt Mossberg, in a great collection of personal anecdotes:

Earlier in the day, before Gates arrived, I did a solo onstage interview with Jobs, and asked him what it was like to be a major Windows developer, since Apple’s iTunes program was by then installed on hundreds of millions of Windows PCs.

He quipped: “It’s like giving a glass of ice water to someone in Hell.” When Gates later arrived and heard about the comment, he was, naturally, enraged, because my partner Kara Swisher and I had assured both men that we hoped to keep the joint session on a high plane.

In a pre-interview meeting, Gates said to Jobs: “So I guess I’m the representative from Hell.” Jobs merely handed Gates a cold bottle of water he was carrying. The tension was broken, and the interview was a triumph, with both men acting like statesmen.

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october 2011 by cloudseer
Now if you drop your iPhone you can get it fixed for $49:

AppleCare+ for iPhone extends repair coverage and technical support to two years from the original purchase date of your iPhone and adds coverage for up to two incidents of accidental damage due to handling, each subject to a $49 service fee.

I’ve never damaged any my iPhones beyond a scuff on their edge, but I know more than a few people who have done some major damage. Though I will say that there is one person in this home who will be getting their first iPhone later this month, and she may also happen to be good at accidentally dropping things.

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october 2011 by cloudseer
→ Sprint to ‘Bet the Company’ on Apple’s iPhone
The Wall Street Journal outs a huge Sprint iPhone deal:

Mr. Hesse told the board the carrier would have to agree to purchase at least 30.5 million iPhones over the next four years—a commitment of $20 billion at current rates—whether or not it could find people to buy them, according to people familiar with the matter.

Also interesting:

The board ultimately signed off on what the company internally called the “Sony” project, concluding Sprint couldn’t compete otherwise. Directors figured, “How can we pass this up? We have to have it,” the person familiar with the matter said.


The lack of the iPhone is “the No. 1 reason customers leave or switch,” Mr. Hesse said at an industry conference last month.


∞ Permalink
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october 2011 by cloudseer
API design for humans
One of the things about working with data at 37signals is that I end up interacting with a lot of different APIs—I’ve used at least ten third-party APIs in the last few months, as well as all of our public APIs and a variety of internal interfaces. I’ve used wrappers in a couple different languages, and written a few of my own. It’s fair to say I’ve developed some strong opinions about API design and documentation from a data consumer’s perspective.

From my experience, there are a few things that really end up mattering from an API usability perspective (I’ll leave arguments about what is truly REST, or whether XML or JSON is actually better technically to someone else).

Tell me more: documentation is king

I have some preferences for actual API design (see below), but I will completely trade them for clear documentation. Clear documentation includes:

Examples that show the full request. This can be a full example using curl like we provide in our API documentation, or just a clear statement of the request like Campaign Monitor does for each of their methods.

Examples that show what the expected response is. One of the most frustrating things when reading API documentation is not knowing what I’m going to get back when I utilize the API—showing mock data goes along way towards this. Really good API documentation like this would let you write an entire wrapper without ever making a single request to the API. Campaign Monitor and MailChimp both have good, but very different takes on this.

A listing of error codes, what they mean, and what the most common cause of receiving them is. I’m generally not the biggest fan of the Adwords API in many ways, but they are a great example of exhaustively documenting every single response code they return.

A searchable HTML interface. Whether it’s visually appealing doesn’t really matter much, and Google indexing it is plenty of search. What doesn’t work for me is when the API documentation is in PDF, or I have to authenticate to get access to it.

Communication of versioning and deprecation schedules. There’s some debate about whether versioning is better than gradual evolution, but regardless, anytime you’re changing something in a way that might break someone’s existing code, fair warning is required, and it should be on your documentation site. Sometimes you have to make a change for security reasons that don’t allow much advance notice, but wherever possible, providing a couple of weeks notice goes a long way. The Github API clearly shows what will be removed when and shows the differences between versions clearly.

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september 2011 by cloudseer
Trent Walton:

I have a big monitor that sits on a big desk, which is littered with stacks of paper the same way my iMac is littered with stacks of apps. I see corners of windows everywhere, peeking out and siphoning shreds of attention away from the task at hand. This need to navigate from one app to the next has facilitated my evolution into a multitasking machine. Not since the arcade edition of Street Fighter II have I mastered so many gestures and key commands. Utilities like Mission Control, Alfred App, and Better Touch Tool, summoned by various combos of taps and swipes, have become key to the way I work. Emails get answered while to-do lists are created while graphics are exported while sites get updated. Notifications pop-up, and I suppress them. I am master of my desktop environment, and it’s wearing me out.

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september 2011 by cloudseer
Boston Globe’s Responsive Redesign. Discuss.
AS EVERY WEB DESIGNER not living under a rock hopefully already knows, The Boston Globe has had a responsive redesign at the hands of some of today’s best designers and developers:

The spare Globe website has a responsive design that adapts to different window sizes, browsers and devices, and it has a built-in Instapaper-type feature that saves articles for reading off various devices on the subway. The overhaul has incorporated the talents of Boston design firms Filament Group, and Upstatement, as well as a large internal team, and pre-empts the need to build separate apps for each device.—New York Observer

As the first responsive redesign of a “real” website (i.e. a large, corporately financed, widely read newspaper site rather than some designer’s blog), the site has the potential to raise public awareness of this flexible, standards-based, multi-platform and user-focused web design approach, and deepen perceptions of its legitimacy, much as Mike Davidson’s standards-based redesign of in 2003 helped convince nonbelievers to take a second look at designing with web standards:

In a major step in the evolution of website design, the Boston Globe relaunched their site today using a Responsive Design approach. For a consistent experience across mobile and desktop browsers, they redesigned the site to add and remove columns to the layout based on the width of your browser window.

This marks the first major, high-traffic, content-heavy website to adopt a responsive design. The lead consultant behind the project is none other than Ethan Marcotte, the designer who wrote the book on responsive design. Much as ESPN changed the way we worked by being one of the first to launch a fully CSS driven site a decade ago, the Boston Globe’s redesign has the potential to completely alter the way we approach web design.—Beaconfire Wire

More work remains to be done. Some sections of the paper have not yet converted, and some site architecture has yet to be refreshed, so it is too early to call the overhaul a complete success. But it is clear that Ethan Marcotte, author of Responsive Web Design and creator of responsive design, together with the geniuses at Filament Group, Upstatement, and the Globe’s internal design/development team have managed to work beautifully together and to solve design problems some of us don’t even know exist.

Congratulations to the Globe for its vision and these designers and developers for their brilliant work.
A_Book_Apart  A_List_Apart  Design  Ethan_Marcotte  Layout  Responsive_Web_Design  Web_Design  Web_Design_History  Web_Standards  shared  from google
september 2011 by cloudseer
Announcing Trello
Around the time of Fog Creek Software's ten year anniversary, I started thinking that if we want to keep our employees excited and motivated for another ten years, we were going to need some new things to work on. It occurred to me that we could easily afford to make four little two-person teams to launch four new products. That would give our developers more chances to move around from product to product when they got bored, which would make Fog Creek Software an even better place to work.

Each team, we decided, would be guided by the spirit of lean startups. They would ship early and often. They would listen to real-world customers instead of building things in an ivory tower. And they wouldn't be afraid to pivot endlessly until they made something that people wanted.

Next, we needed some business ideas. After ten years in management I still never knew what anyone was supposed to be working on. Once in a while I would walk around asking everyone what they were doing, and half the time, my reaction was "why the hell are you working on THAT?" So one of the teams started working on finding better ways to keep track of who was working on what. It had to be super simple and friction-free so that everyone would use it, but it had to be powerful, too.

We had an early idea called FIVE THINGS. Everybody would have a list of exactly five things that they were allowed to work on. The top two were things they were actively doing right now. The other three were things that they would do as soon as they finished the first two. But nobody was ever allowed to have SIX things assigned to them. If you have too many things on your to-do list, your motivation tends to sag.

Five Things wasn't the right idea, but it led us to the idea that became Trello. Pretty soon we had four programmers and two summer interns working on it. We started dogfooding the product when it was only 700 lines of code, and even in that super-simple form, we found it incredibly useful. By the end of the summer we realized we had a hit on our hands: an incredibly simple, easy-to-understand way for teams to collaborate online.

So without further ado, I'd like to introduce you to Fog Creek's newest product: Trello.

Read more about what Trello does
Sign up, it's awesome!
Need to hire a really great programmer? Want a job that doesn't drive you crazy? Visit the Joel on Software Job Board: Great software jobs, great people.
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september 2011 by cloudseer
ifttt — If This Then That
New(-ish) automation service, acts like glue between a wide variety of online services. Think: Automator for the web. Ambitious and clever, and they take a novel approach to making the interface obvious and easy. Check out the list of most-popular recipes to get an idea of the things you can do with it.

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september 2011 by cloudseer
VirtualHostX 3.0 [Sponsor]
My thanks to Tyler Hall for sponsoring the RSS feed this week to promote his Mac app, VirtualHostX 3.0.

In short, VirtualHostX is a Mac app for setting up, running, and managing virtual hosts on your Mac.

As any professional Web developer knows, doing your development locally is simply how it’s done. Setting up your Mac to run the necessary server software is the best way to build and develop websites and web apps. And if you have more than a single site you’re building and working on then you’re going to want to set up virtual hosts. And that is where VirtualHostX comes in.

This app is professional-grade, and it has been used by many of the best in the business for years.

Sean Sperte recommended VirtualHostX in 2008 as one of the most important tools to setting up a killer, local web development environment on your Mac.

Derek Punslan, one of the guys who helped me cut my teeth on Mac and web nerdery back in 2006 and 2007, has been recommending VirtualHostX since 2009.

Brian Warren, the senior designer/developer at Happy Cog Studios uses VirtualHostX.

VirtualHostX works on top of the server software on your Mac. Your Mac can easily be used as an Apache server, and all you need to do is install PHP and MySQL. Most people, myself included, recommend you use MAMP for that. MAMP is free and it installs all the necessary server software so your Mac can run websites which require databases (i.e. local WordPress installs).

I suggest you read Sean or Aaron’s tutorials on getting MAMP set up and then installing VirtualHostX. The setup is extremely easy (it took me longer to download MAMP than to set it up), and in just a few clicks you’ll be all set to install and run a WordPress or Expression Engine website right from within your Mac.

For a long time I did my web design and development on a live server. I guess that is fine (though it is a bit dangerous, but hey, that’s how I roll), but doing web design and development locally is so much better and more convenient for two primary reasons: speed and speed. Moreover, you can design and develop even when you’re not connected to the Internet.

(Note that if you’re using Typekit, you can add your localhost sites to your Typekit Kit. Simply edit your Kit and add “localhost” as well as whatever URL you chose for your local development URL to the domains list.)

Version 3.0 of VirtualHostX, which just shipped a few days ago, has some very clever new features. Namely Lift Off, a new Domain Details tab, and a new icon.

With Lift Off you can share your site with anyone online. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve received emails or Twitter DMs with a screenshot of a site that a friend is working on. If that friend were using VirtualHostX they could send me a working URL via Lift Off and I could see the live site in my browser.

Tyler describes Lift Off like this:

Lift Off creates a secure connection between your Mac and the VirtualHostX Cloud then gives you a unique URL that you can pass around to your boss, client, or friend to view your site.

Since your virtual host is being served live off of your Mac, there’s no uploading files or waiting. Changes you make locally appear automatically for your users.

The second big update is the Domain Details tab. It’s a tab that is specific to each virtual host you have set up. In there you can log and store all the various details related to the domain you are doing design and development for (such as FTP, SSH, DNS, database config info, and more).

VirtualHostX 3.0 would be worth it for its new features alone. You can try it for free to see for yourself, but you may want to pick it up soon as it’s currently on sale for readers.

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september 2011 by cloudseer
‘Do Not Develop in the Open’
Information from the Oracle v. Google lawsuit includes these bullet points from an internal Google presentation:

Do not develop in the open. Instead, make source code available
after innovation is complete

Lead device concept: Give early access to the software to
partners who build and distribute devices to our specification
(ie [sic], Motorola and Verizon). They get a non-contractual time to
market advantage and in return they align to our standard.

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september 2011 by cloudseer
‘Very, Very Responsive’
Dieter Bohn from The Verge, at around the 1:20 mark in his video review of Fusion Garage’s new Grid 10 forked-version-of-Android tablet: “Taking a look at the pinch-to-zoom action, it’s very, very responsive. I’m really impressed with what they’ve managed to do here.”

If my iPad’s pinch-to-zoom were that choppy, I’d take it back to the Apple Store, because I’d know there was something seriously wrong with it.

(Via Marco Arment.)

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august 2011 by cloudseer
Easy Content Deployment for WordPress: RAMP
Easy Content Deployment for WordPress: RAMP.

By far the most hideous part of continuous development is database migration. While we have stellar tools for source code management, the database layer seems to be just abstracted enough to be painful.

I’ve just learned of RAMP through the stream of tweets from #wcsf and I’m impressed.

RAMP does what it can to tackle the problem we never want to deal with: keeping your staged WordPress content in community with your production WordPress content.

RAMP allows you to make all the changes you need in your staging environment, then selectively push these changes to your production site. You can set up a new section of your site, upload some images to fill out a nice carousel for it, and add a link to it on your home page. Once this content has been reviewed and approved, you can go to your RAMP page, select these content changes, and push them to your production site.

Do take the time to check out their video tour, the entire process seems extremely polished from start to finish.
Asides  WordPress  content_deployment  content_staging  plugin  RAMP  shared  from google
august 2011 by cloudseer
How Motorola got Google to pay up: “By the balls”
Smart post by John Gruber:

I think Motorola knew they had Google by the balls. Google needed Motorola’s patent library to defend Android as a whole, Motorola knew it, and they made Google pay and pay handsomely. I don’t think it’s curious at all why Google didn’t simply license Motorola’s patents. Motorola held out for a full acquisition at a premium far above the company’s actual value, and threatened to go after its sibling Android partners if Google didn’t acquiesce.
News  Google  Motorola  shared  from google
august 2011 by cloudseer
Jeff Bezos’s Patent Reform Ideas
Jeff Bezos has a few excellent ideas for how to reform our patent system:

Much (much, much, much) remains to be worked out, but here’s an outline of what I have in mind:

1. That the patent laws should recognize that business method and software patents are fundamentally different than other kinds of patents.

2. That business method and software patents should have a much shorter lifespan than the current 17 years — I would propose 3 to 5 years. This isn’t like drug companies, which need long patent windows because of clinical testing, or like complicated physical processes, where you might have to tool up and build factories. Especially in the age of the Internet, a good software innovation can catch a lot of wind in 3 or 5 years.

3. That when the law changes, this new lifespan should take effect retroactively so that we don’t have to wait 17 years for the current patents to enter the public domain.

4. That for business method and software patents there be a short (maybe 1 month?) public comment period before the patent number is issued. This would give the Internet community the opportunity to provide prior art references to the patent examiners at a time when it could really help. (Thanks to my friend Brewster Kahle for this suggestion.)

Two and four are brilliant. Reducing patent lifespans to 3-5 years would instantly make our current patent problems much smaller, because not only would patents be invalidated rather quickly, but because their lifespan is so short, people would have much less reason to file them in the first place.

By the way, note the date on this.
links  Politics  Web  shared  from google
august 2011 by cloudseer
Eliminating Batteries
Christopher Mims:
The average human expends between 100 and 200 watts of power when exercising vigorously, but your iPhone can only accept up to 2.5 watts when charging. Somewhere, somehow, there’s got to be an inexpensive and reliable way to connect these two realities.
I hear that submerging humans in goo works pretty well.
Links  battery  humans  life  shared  from google
august 2011 by cloudseer
Speaking of Tools
Mathew Ingram, GigaOm:

In the wake of the riots in London, the British government says it’s considering shutting down access to social networks — as well as Research In Motion’s BlackBerry messenger service — and is asking the companies involved to help. Prime Minister David Cameron said not only is his government considering banning individuals from social media if they are suspected of causing disorder, but it has asked Twitter and other providers to take down posts that are contributing to “unrest.”

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august 2011 by cloudseer
Slicehost Articles: Linux file permission concepts
Linux file permissions are strange and wondrous
things. Start down the path of understanding by looking at the core
concepts behind them before moving on to practical
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august 2011 by cloudseer
The Uses Of Cultivated Boredom: Waiting Without Media
How much of every day do you spend waiting? If you’re a parent with young children I know that you wait. Wait to pick them up. Wait while they have activities. Wait for them to go to sleep. Wait for them to . . .

Even without children, life is often filed with waiting. And many of us fill that waiting time with media. We check our email, read something, check something. Anything to stave off boredom.

But boredom is a precursor state to thinking and imagination, so don’t be so quick to push it away.

At least once this week try an experiment. When you have to wait somewhere for something, just wait. Sit there. Welcome boredom.

And see where your mind takes you.

The Uses Of Cultivated Boredom: Waiting Without Media is a post from: First Today, Then Tomorrow. If you enjoyed or benefited from this post, please share, tweet, or link!

The_life_of_the_mind  writing  boredom  imagination  shared  from google
august 2011 by cloudseer
Steve Jobs on Reporting Sales Numbers
Still thinking about Samsung’s decision to stop reporting sales numbers for phones and tablets. Here’s Steve Jobs in an interview with David Pogue two years ago:

He said that Apple doesn’t see e-books as a big market at this
point, and pointed out that, for example, doesn’t
ever say how many Kindles it sells. “Usually, if they sell a lot
of something, you want to tell everybody.”

This is true for Apple, as well. I’m pretty sure the only time they’ve mentioned sales numbers for Apple TV is when it crossed the million-units-sold mark last December. They don’t put Apple TV numbers in their quarterly results.

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august 2011 by cloudseer
The huge success of an AppStore failure | Gameized
GAMEized Blog - GAMEized develops Web, iPhone, iPad, Android and Facebook games.
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august 2011 by cloudseer
OS X Lion Server, MySQL on the Mac App Store
I just had an epiphany. I might understand why Apple removed MySQL from OS X Lion Server. It's because of all things, MySQL should be a free app, downloaded from the app store. That's not Apple's job, it's MySQL's job. This is how software works now.

We'll talk about the inclusion of PostgreSQL in a second, just hold on.

Here's what my problem with MySQL has always been, and it's actually the reason I got a Mac Mini Server: installing and upgrading MySQL is always a major pain in the ass, especially upgrading. But it shouldn't be hard at all. Minor releases of MySQL should update just as easily as any other software, so why don't they? I don't know!

In MySQL's defense, they try to make installation easy on a Mac, but you can tell their heart just isn't in it yet. But everything even the most anal system administrator does when upgrading MySQL can and should be be automated. Shutdown? Yes. Backups? Yes. Rollback if necessary? No. They should actually work to make sure rollbacks are never necessary. That's what testing is for.

Having said that, I'm sure Apple would be willing to support multiple major versions for server applications. It's not something the current apps require, but we get it, some people need MySQL 5.0 and can't move forward yet, fine, that's a separate app from 5.1 and 5.5. Maybe these versions could be "in app" purchases (which have no cost, for the free versions.) There could be one MySQL app that can be configured for a specific version, or maybe even multiple versions at once.

The point is this, the days of manual software installs are over, even for server software. If MySQL doesn't do it, you can bet within the next year one or more other database makers will.

The other thing to factor in is that Apple released a new Mac Mini Server with OS X Lion Server. This would indicate that they aren't giving up on the server market. It says that as usual, they are trying to change it, for the better. I hope that's what happens.

Oh, I almost forgot about the inclusion of PostgreSQL. Apple needs a database on the server to support the wiki feature, but there is no app store database ready yet. PostgreSQL may have even been chosen because it is the less used package, to encourage MySQL to take action. Or maybe PostgreSQL was chosen because they've already committed to making an app which Apple will use once it's ready.

Anyway, this is what I'd personally like to see, an app store database. We'll just have to wait and see what actually happens.
Tools  Apple_Inc.  Mac_App_Store  Mac_Mini_Server  Mac_Software  MySQL  OS_X_Lion  OS_X_Server  PostgreSQL  Server_Admin  shared  from google
july 2011 by cloudseer
The Benefits of a Local Typekit Sandbox
A clever workaround from Andy McCray for when you’re doing web design mockup in Photoshop and you want Typekit fonts to be in the design:

On a recent project, I began using a local Typekit sandbox — a static HTML page where I could run wild playing with my desired typeface and, as my design evolved, manipulate it with ultimate precision. Using basic HTML to markup my page and CSS to style it, I was able to easily create and style paragraphs, headings, lists, and, best of all, position text in boxes that fitted snugly into my Photoshop mockup.

(Via Matt Haughey.)

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july 2011 by cloudseer
How to copy the OSX Lion installer to prevent multiple downloads
Apple's OSX Lion upgrade is available from the App store as an almost 4GB download, and a single purchase can update all your computers running Snow Leopard. My concern was that I didn't want to have to download it twice for each Mac I have, but fortunately it's very easy to make a copy after the download has completed and before the install starts.

Note, do this before installing the update!
The App Store downloads the update to a temporary location at:

/Users/<USERNAME>/Library/Application Support/AppStore/444303913/

and then moves the installer to 

/Applications/Install Mac OS X Lion
[ actually /Applications/Install Mac OS X ]

Once the installation is done, the files under the Applications directory are deleted.

So when this screen appears:

don't click the "Continue" button until you have copied the installer files.

Copy the installer files
Navigate to /Applications in the Finder and then either burn to DVD, copy to a USB stick or an external hard drive the application named "Install Mac OS X Lion". I copied it to an external hard drive (the same one I used for Time Machine Backups).

Now you can go back to the installer screen and click the Continue button.

Run the installer on a second, third, fourth, etc... machine
You can now use the same application to install Mac OS X Lion on another machine. I plugged my external hard drive into my second Mac, copied the installer app over into the Applications directory, and then ran it. OS X upgrade to Lion with no problems.

I might have also been able to run the installer directly from the external hard drive but didn't want to take the chance the installer would be deleted in case I need it again in the future for some reason. You can probably also copy it to a location other than Applications.

Reinstalling Lion from a USB stick
And finally, I'll link to a post on Ars Technica which talks about how to copy the installer file to a USB thumb drive to make your own install disk which should be able to install Lion without having Snow Leopard already installed.

The article by Chris Foresman is available here:
Ask Ars: Do I have to use the Mac App Store to reinstall Lion?

Related posts:

How to see how long an app store app will take to download (Monday, July 25th 2011)
Restore 3 finger swipe between pages in Google Chrome on Mac OSX Lion (Monday, July 25th 2011)
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july 2011 by cloudseer
∞ Time for the Big Cat
This will mark the fifth version of Mac OS X that I have used since I “switched” to the Mac. With every new OS X version I have thoroughly enjoyed the new features that were delivered and the slight UI improvements that also came with each update. New versions of Mac OS X are far more important than most other software updates — my life simply revolves too much around my laptop to not pay close attention to OS X and any updates that Apple makes to it.
Ignore the fact that this is still the “same old” Mac OS X. Lion represents the most polished operating system that I have ever had the privilege and opportunity to use — iOS included.
With Lion we begin to see a subtle obfuscation of the file system and a move toward skeuomorphic design for certain apps — yuck. This represents exactly what Lion is: a nudge forward that pushes what seem to be subtle changes, which are in fact a rethinking how computers should be used.
Not a nudge in the sense that this is an entirely new OS, but a nudge in the sense that this is an OS built for today’s computer users. In stark contrast to what we are used to: systems built for people that want, or know, how to use the system.
Yet it is the same old Mac OS X that were all very used to.
Lion then, is built for people — plain and simple. One could argue that the Mac from day one was built that way, but then I would ask you how many times you heard someone say: “I don’t know where I saved it”. Until you eliminate those phrases, until you eliminate the confusion, you don’t have a system built for real people. Lion is a step in the right direction towards removing this confusion.
The GistAs I said Lion is not about massive operation changes — it is more about subtle refinement of every aspect of not just Mac OS X, but of computing in general. That’s why at first glance it is harder to see the system files in Finder and easier to just see every user created file — OS X is showing you what you are likely to be looking for first not the logical structure of all your data.
Lion is not about the ‘iOSification’ of OS X — that is a short-sighted summary of Lion in my opinion. There is edge smoothing, feature additions and all sorts of stuff like that, and yes some cues were taken from its sibling iOS — but it’s not iOS, it doesn’t want to be and it doesn’t try to be.
Lion makes a full-fledged operating system feel intuitive in a way that you think: “I always should have been able to do this, but only now can I do this.”
This is best shown with the addition of tools that allow you to virtually sign a PDF only using a webcam. Keeping you from having to buy expensive hardware to ‘get’ a signature on to your Mac. You see it with the refinement of the system-wide autocorrect and the beautiful way that your Mac transitions from being a laptop, to a desktop.
These features alone are not enough to convince most that this is anything but a feature upgraded OS, but when you start to use Lion — all these small refinements — tell you that this is an OS made for users and not for programmers. 1 That’s a good thing — a really good thing.
Biggest ChangesLet’s go through some of the bigger changes that will be most apparent to upgrading users.
ScrollingAs most of you have heard by now, scrolling has underwent some major changes in Lion, not the least of which is the reversal of the way the scrolling works. Apple changed the scrolling behavior so that your interaction with the trackpad or magic mouse (or scrolling wheels) manipulates the windows in the same way that it would if you were directly touching the screen.
Therefore sliding your fingers downward scrolls up and not down. It is a major change that takes some getting used to, but once you get used it everything seems far more logical. This can of course be turned off, but I urge you to keep it on for a couple of weeks. I have really come to prefer this scrolling reversal, especially when using a Magic trackpad, which is what Lion seems to be built around.
Apple also changed the looks of the scroll bars — you don’t see them — they only appear on hover and have no arrows for up and down. This is a welcomed change from those terrible looking bright blue plastic looking scroll bars. My biggest concern with this change is that it is no longer readily apparent to users that the content is scrollable.
I believe this is a change that will be welcomed by long time users, and mobile first users (the current crop of ‘kids’). However casual computer users, the group I usually refer to as “my Mom” will likely have a long adjustment period to this UI change. Overall, it seems like a change made for aesthetics and a logical move for the more advanced users — my fear is the added hurdle this will add for “new” OS X users.
The best change though, is the addition of elasticity in scrolling. As Apple did with iOS you can see the document run past the end of the actual document before it snaps back, and some apps are now implementing pull down to refresh types of behaviors. 2 This is the addition that makes reversal of the scrolling, momentum, elasticity, and multi-touch gestures, feel ‘natural’.
I am a huge fan of all the scrolling revamps in Lion, they are all welcomed in my book and really make the entire OS feel much different.
UI LooksThere is a lot of craziness going on with Lion’s overall UI changes, and to list off what has changed we would need to start a whole other blog. There are three major design themes that come with Lion.
SkeuomorphismThis is all the hideous screenshots you have seen of iCal and Address Book. This is the worst thing I have seen Apple do in quite a while, I half expected Mail to turn into a postal box with letters you had to pull out and unfold — thankfully that is not the case (yet). However, you do get these lovely looking apps:

Arguments for an against each app’s new design has been rehashed here and other places quite a few times since the screenshots first leaked. No need to go over them again, it’s just a design trend that Apple has decided they would like to do in a select few apps — and that I am glad they only chose to do in a few apps.
Rounded cornersAll four corners of every window are now rounded. The rounded corners look really nice on the bottom of every app, but for looking at certain documents I find it a bit odd to have those corners cut off. For instance: Pages. If I am designing a newsletter, or whatever else you do in Pages, I am going to guess that you won’t be trimming those corners off the bottom of your printed paper. Therefore I would really appreciate a more accurate view of the documents I am creating.
Those corners just give you an unrealistic view of what you are working on, so for things that you are creating for physical production I don’t like those rounded corners. However for most other things the rounded corners are a nice touch that ease the lines of the OS.
One thing about this though that bugs me: a few versions back of OS X the top two corners of the menubar itself were rounded, thus there was a few pixels on every Mac’s screen that were rarely used. Then Apple changed it so that those top corners were no longer rounded and every thing looked a bit better. Now, we have sharp corners on the OS itself, and rounded corners for every window — it’s not that important, but does seem oddly contradictory.
Monochrome everythingThis might be the most apparent change in Lion, Apple decided to save users money on LCD ink and change their OS to one that need only show shades of bluish gray. We saw this change coming in iTunes and it has permeated it’s way through much of the OS. Finder is a primary example, and while it looks nice, it makes Finder a touch harder to use.
I like the subtlety of the monochrome and I like to look at it. However, I don’t like using the OS as much with these changes, I find it just to difficult to find what you are looking for — too much subtlety and not enough usability.
I can see the argument for both sides of this coin:
Too much color is just as useless (case in point, most people’s Dock). So Apple wanted to simplify the color schemes for the sake of aesthetic appeal and to make a change.Too little color is just as problematic as too much color. Now when I look at playlists in iTunes, ‘favorites’ in the Finder sidebar — well everything looks the same.Or:
If you make everything bold, nothing is bold. —Art Webb
We need a compromise here.
Best ChangesExternal monitor supportBy far my favorite change in Lion is the way the OS handles external monitors. It used to be that when you wanted to run your Mac in clamshell mode (external monitor attached, lid of portable Mac closed) you had to plug everything in and close the lid. The computer would then sleep and you would then need to wake it by hitting the keyboard or mouse — this would put the Mac into clamshell mode.
Now, under Lion, closing the lid of the computer with an external screen attached just results in a momentary flash of blue while the machine switches over to clamshell mode. This also means that opening back up the lid on your Mac will put it back into dual screen mode — all automatically.
I have to do this at least twice a day, so this change alone has made Lion an awesome upgrade for me. This is just another ‘commons sense’ update for Lion.
FinderNo, Finder is not magically less sucky in Lion, it does however offer some very cool new features. The biggest of which is the obfuscation of the underlying Mac file system. Instead of showing you the pure directory structure of Mac OS X, Finder shows you the information that the average user is likely interested in seeing: their files.
Apple is placing a primary importance on the user and what the user needs. This is most apparent by the new way that the list of folders and drives is ordered along the sidebar of the Finder window. The Finder first shows you the new ‘All Files’ option that seeks to show you every file on your Mac that is a user … [more]
shared  from google
july 2011 by cloudseer
Plus One for Google Plus
Social Network websites are kind of a fact of life -- I try to escape them but too often they are as vital as a personal phone book for others. Especially in my industry (technology and/or entertainment), it's just a tool which causes people to go cock-eyed if you don't have it.So with trepidation I've signed up for Google Plus (Google+?) with an invite from a buddy.And right away I feel a touch of fear as I read the disclosures about how they'll share advertising info and Plus One info... and then I realize, they have a check-box next to them. I don't have to let Google+ share with other websites and I can change that option later. Hm.Okay, so after that, I signed in and was greeted almost immediately with the warm glow and excitement of "Circles" -- there are times in your life when you have something just beneath the surface of the ripple of thoughts, you've been organizing it a certain way and all of a sudden its as if someone said, "Oh, yeah that's how I do it and here's how I improved it!"In Facebook I struggle (and I do mean struggle) to organize my contacts, having finally arrived at: Why?A couple years ago a really embarrassing picture was uploaded and tagged of me - sharing it automatically with basically everyone! In hindsight, it's kind of epic and funny and awesome but my family and certain friends/coworkers/future employers/students/etc would not have approved (that was such an epic understatement I trembled a bit). So I needed to lock down my profile.They had "Friend Groups" and after hunting through the site (I really don't know why it's so hard to find, it used to be on the sidebar then it went somewhere else... ugh) I was able to get these groups. The Aces, the Jacks, the Family, the "WTF" (seriously, I don't think I've ever met you but... uh... maybe?). Now they've changed it to "Lists" (I think).And then, I had to go through the endless privacy settings on Facebook (It's like a game of whack a mole where I try and hit the right setting for the right group). Then whenever I go to post something or put up a picture or whatever I have to figure out how to lock it down. It also seems every few months Facebook changes their privacy policy/settings and I have to reconfirm everything and lockdown new "features" they've "helpfully" added for me.In short, Facebook's mantra is "Privacy is Dead, Long Live the Share Everything!" (except if you're famous then you have to protect yourself.. poor, poor Zuckerberg) and I'm not alone in this belief: NYT Article. It wasn't always like this but I'll spare you the rehash.I hate that attitude -- it's prevalent in everything Facebook does and it means that at a fundamental level, I do not trust Facebook. I may have to use it but it's with the same sort of begrudging, pride swallowing anger that you trudge through airport security, taking off shoes and belts in front of complete strangers and rude (not always but as a rule) TSA agents.So, when I saw this: My eyes widened and I was all "Whoa!" and "Yes!" - this is basically the default screen. No, we don't want to share every little detail of our lives with every person on this big rock! We do not. Facebook keeps pushing, prodding and even pulling us into their vision of "share everything!" It's begrudgingly they add any support for any "privacy."So I can't review Google+ -- It may completely suck! It may be horrible! I have barely got past my Circles and Profile page but on those two pages I see something attached to almost every item (In fact, I haven't found one item it isn't attached to). "Share With..." or "Who Can See This?" - A drop down that lists "Anyone" "Your Circles" "Your Extended Circles" or "Custom."That is a major win for me -- right there, it's RIGHT THERE! No hunting through the long-list of privacy items on Facebook's somewhat buried privacy settings.Google+ acknowledges that we wear different hats in different settings and sometimes for really good reasons. I don't want to share with my Auntie Aggie that I was so trashed that I stumbled home at 1am on Hollywood Blvd singing "Start Spreadin' the News!" (which invariably pissed off some Angelenos). Nor do I want to share with all my coworkers that my little cousin just made it onto the Cheerleading squad and will be even MORE squeaky the next time I see her.What's even more astounding? That such simple settings are lacking so completely that I get excited to have it.I may find severe deficiencies over the next few days but for now +1 to Google+ on making Usable Privacy.
Facebook  Google_Plus  Privacy  Win!  shared  from google
july 2011 by cloudseer
Fixing Soccer
Paul Kafasis:
It seems like every time we start to care about soccer, it spits directly into our collective face, while handing us another devastating loss.
One of his ways for fixing soccer:
Baseball doesn’t switch to a home run derby after the 12th inning. Basketball doesn’t switch to a game of H-O-R-S-E after the second OT. So from now on, we’re not deciding which team is the best in the world through what are effectively coin flips.
True that.
shared  from google
july 2011 by cloudseer
Hotmail Bans Common Passwords
Tom Warren:
Microsoft will also roll out a feature to prevent users from choosing a common password. Common passwords include password, 123456, ilovecats and gogiants. “This new feature will be rolling out soon, and will prevent you from choosing a very common password when you sign up for an account or when you change your password,” says Craddock. Hotmail users who currently use a weak and common password may be prompted to change it in the future.
Two things:
This is a great move and every company should follow suit.‘gogiants’ is really a common password?∞
shared  from google
july 2011 by cloudseer
I liked a YouTube video: Forthcoming release on Beatport, from the digital label Elektroshok Records
+ info:
shared  from google
july 2011 by cloudseer
HP’s Tortured WebOS Positioning
Jean-Louis Gassée:

The less-than-perfect features widely remarked upon by reviewers
will be taken care Real Soon Now. According to Walt Mossberg’s
TouchPad review, “H-P acknowledges most of these problems
and says it is already working on a webOS update, to be delivered
wirelessly in three to six weeks that will fix nearly all of

But, wait a minute, if the bugs can be exterminated so quickly,
why didn’t HP wait “three to six weeks” and execute the
perfect launch promised by their CEO? Did Apotheker get to test
the product himself and decide it met his standard for perfection,
or did his staff tell him bedtime stories?

shared  from google
july 2011 by cloudseer
Skeewiff - A Man Of Constant Sorrow
I liked a YouTube video: I am a man of constant sorrow
I've seen trouble all my day.
I bid farewell to old Kentucky
The place where I was born and raised.
(The place where he was born and raised)

For six long years I've been in trouble
No pleasures here on earth I...
shared  from google
july 2011 by cloudseer
Own your identity
This paragraph in Marshall Kirkpatrick’s Why I’ll Never Redirect my Personal Blog to Google Plus scared me a bit:

Google Plus doesn’t have RSS feeds, or email subscription options. Both are important to me; I want to speak to my readers however they want to be spoken to. Some day, we’ll be able to write to and read from any platform in any other platform, just like we can call one phone network from inside another phone network now.

I hope he’s being clever here, because we had that. (And I think we still have it.)

It’s interesting that so much online publishing is moving into a small handful of massive, closed, proprietary networks after being so distributed and diverse during the big boom of blogs and RSS almost a decade ago.

In many ways, we’re better off now: publishing online is far easier, less time-consuming, and more accessible than it has ever been, which has brought content, voices, and consumers online that wouldn’t have been otherwise.

But all of these proprietary networks that want to own and hold in your content are reversing much of the web’s progress in some other areas, such as the durability and quality of online identity.

If you care about your online presence, you must own it. I do, and that’s why my email address has always been at my own domain, not the domain of any employer or webmail service.

You might think your address will be fine indefinitely, but if I used a webmail address from the best webmail provider at the time I broke away from my university address and formed my own identity, it would have ended in And that wasn’t very long ago.

I’ve always built my personal blog’s content and reputation at its own domain, completely under my control, despite being hosted on many different platforms and serving different roles over the years. It has never been a subdomain of any particular publishing platform or host.

Tumblr respects this. From day one, David and I gave it free custom-domain support, full HTML control, and no forced branding or advertising. But Tumblr is a hybrid of a blog-publishing platform and a social network that seems truly unique — the “pure” social networks aren’t nearly as willing to allow you to own your identity there.

Locking your identity in won’t prevent a major social service from succeeding. Sadly, most people don’t care about giving control of their online identity to current or future advertising companies.

But there will always be the open web for the geeks, the misfits, the eccentrics, the control freaks, and any other term we can think of to proudly express our healthy skepticism of giving up too much control over what really should be ours.
shared  from google
july 2011 by cloudseer
Google+ is the new FriendFeed
I’ve been joking with Omar that Google+
is the new FriendFeed. I recently posted
this on Google+ and was asked to explain what I meant since Google+ doesn’t support
importing of content from other services which was the key feature FriendFeed. The
reason I say this is that Google+ fulfills the same need that FriendFeed when it first
came out.

Here’s an excerpt from a post by Robert Scoble in 2008 about FriendFeed titled Loving
my FriendFeed

I love my FriendFeed. Here’s
a list of top bloggers who are using the service. Why do I love it? It’s
one place you can find all my stuff and, even, comment on it. It’s amazing the discussions
that a 140-character “Tweet” on Twitter can generate. I subscribe to a ton of people
on FriendFeed and notice that often the conversations after a Twitter message will
be 1000x longer (and generally more interesting) than the Twitter itself.

In my previous
post I asked what problem Google+ solves and the answer is above. Google+, like
FriendFeed before it, gives people a place to subscribe to and participate in conversations
around content produced by people they are interested in.

Why Twitter Doesn’t Solve This Problem

Twitter relationships have been described as a public
interest graph. Specifically, Twitter is a way to keep on top of people and content
you find interesting whether it is tech news sites, bloggers, celebrities, government
officials and even people you know. However there are a number of key gaps in the
Twitter user experience which FriendFeed fixed and Twitter still hasn’t even though
people have been complaining about them for years.

The first problem is that is really difficult to have conversations on Twitter. Here’s
an excerpt from a TechCrunch post made in 2008 titled Actual
Conversations On Twitter Not Possible Until Twitter Lets Us which explains the

One of the big complaints about Twitter is that conversations are hard to follow.
Users can write a response to a Twitter message (or anything else), but the easy way
to do this is to add an @[username] tag to the Twitter, which refers back to the original
Twitter user. But by then that original user has often moved on to other subjects,
and it becomes impossible to follow the conversation.

The fact is that Twitter purposefully doesn’t want users to be able to track conversations.
The content begins and ends with a discreet Twitter message, up to 140 characters
long. Competitor Friendfeed does a nice job of tracking conversations by letting users
reply to actual messages, not just users. Twitter, for whatever reason (possibly to
keep things simple), just doesn’t want that. And until they do, nothing is going to

The ability to have actual comment threads about a status update as opposed to disconnected
@replies is a more satisfying experience for many users. As Mike Arrington stated
above, the challenge for Twitter is that this would change the dynamics of the service
in ways that take away some of the character of the service.

The second problem is that Twitter doesn’t give a public way to indicate that a piece
of content is interesting without also sharing it. Specifically, there is no analog
to Facebook’s “I like
this” within the stream (not to be confused with the like
button social plugin). Twitter has favorites but
it’s actually meant to be a way to bookmark posts not to tell people you like the
status update. There are now sites like which
have garnered a sizable user base by giving people a way to get “I like this” style
functionality from Twitter and see how many people have favorited a tweet.

Both of these problems are fixed by Google+ and it is unsurprising that the same sorts
of people who loved FriendFeed are not only on Google+ but are its
most popular users. The question is whether Twitter will fix these problems with
their experience given that this has made people pine for alternate services. Given
that they didn’t try to address these when FriendFeed was at the height of its hype
curve, it seems unlikely they will unless they see declines in their more mainstream
user base.

Why Facebook Doesn’t Solve This Problem

Facebook relationships are an attempt to mirror our offline relationships online.
The problem with this is captured in Paul Adams’ excellent slideshow The
Real Life Social Network v2

The problem with Facebook is that people you may find interesting (i.e. your interest
graph) or that find you interesting are not necessarily people you want to sharing
the same space as your family, friends and even coworkers. A good example of this
problem are the following suggestions I saw when I logged into Facebook this morning.

Alexia Tsotsis and Steven
Levy are both journalists who work for TechCrunch and Wired respectively. Although
I find the articles they write interesting, I don’t want to have them be on the receiving
end my mobile phone videos of my son playing in the park or my check-ins from places
around Seattle nor do I want to be subjected to their similar personal updates.

The combination of asymmetric following (people can subscribe to my updates without
my accepting a friend request) and the ability to place people into groups (i.e. Circles)
which can then be used to provide limited visibility to various updates is how Google+
solves this problem for various interest graphs. Neither of these features exists
in Facebook today and while I suspect they will add the latter especially since Paul
Adams now works there, it is harder to imagine seeing asymmetric follow ever showing
up on Facebook outside of Pages.

Where That Leaves Us

I expect that both Twitter and Facebook will lose some chunk of people’s time to Google+.
However Twitter is more vulnerable than Facebook, because Facebook has been fairly
resistant the rise of the “interest graph” by building features like Facebook Pages
which allows people to follow their interests in the same stream as updates from people
they care about offline. For example, it is interesting to note that the most popular
user on Twitter is Lady Gaga with 11.5 million
followers but on the other hand her Facebook fan page has 40
million fans. Secondly, there really isn’t a gap Google+ fills with regards to
communicating and staying in touch with the people one cares about offline via a social

On the other hand, Google+ is more in the same product space as Twitter being interest
graph related which can be seen by the usage patterns of its early adopters. It’s
also telling to read comments
from Google+ readers on how much less time they now spend on Facebook and Twitter.

Playing: Frank
Ocean - Novacane
Competitors/Web_Companies  Social_Software  shared  from google
july 2011 by cloudseer
∞ Quote of the Day: Warren Buffett
“I could end the deficit in 5 minutes. You just pass a law that says that anytime there is a deficit of more than 3% of GDP all sitting members of congress are ineligible for reelection.”— Warren Buffett
QOTD  shared  from google
july 2011 by cloudseer
Steaming Mad at Steam!
Dear Steam,

I can’t help but love you. You’re so convenient. Your sales are so good (and frequent!). I can’t tell you how many games I’ve purchased for the 2nd or 3rd time because the price was right, just to get the convenience of your digital distribution goodness.

You do a few things that annoy me from time to time. And lets face it, your support really needs improvement. It’s not a compliment when people compare your support with that of Google. But most of the time the good far outweighs the bad, in my opinion. Oh, if last night could have been one of those times.

You see, I’m kind of a smart person. I’m no genius by any means, but I am kind of smart with some things. For example, I try not to store any important data on my OS hard drive. That way if my OS somehow becomes toast, I still have my data and I can easily get things going by replacing the HDD and/or reinstalling the OS.

Such was the case last night. I had a power outage here and after power was restored I turned on my computer only to be faced with a BSOD during the boot up process. So after spending a few frustrating hours trying to troubleshoot the problem with the OS HDD, I came to the conclusion it was toast.

No matter, all I had to do was swap out the drive and install Windows again and I’d be up and running in no time with very little lost. Or so I thought.

You see, among other important data, I still had all my Steam files and games safely stored away on other drives. However, the newly installed Windows OS didn’t realize that Steam was installed (because technically it hadn’t ever been installed on that fresh OS), and the Steam Service wasn’t installed either. So I attempted to install Steam to the already existing Steam directory. I’ve done this in the past and it sure is nice not to have to download hundreds of gigabytes of games again after a reinstall.

But this time there was a problem. The Steam installation broke partway through. Evidence of this was the fact that the Start Menu shortcut to Steam was not there (but the Uninstall shortcut was) and when Steam auto-launched itself after the install I got an error message about needing to reinstall to get the Steam Service to run.

And here is where I made my tiny little mistake that led to huge problems. As you may be aware, a lot of programs need to be uninstalled before they can be reinstalled to fix issues with a bad installation or some other corruption. So I went to Add/Remove Programs and selected to uninstall Steam, with the intention that only things like Start Menu shortcuts and registry settings and the actual Steam client would be removed. Windows asked me if I was sure I wanted to uninstall Steam. I clicked in the affirmative.

Then with no prompts or confirmation from the Steam uninstaller, Steam began uninstalling itself. But boy was it taking forever! Well, I admit this PC is a bit old and things don’t always work as well or as fast as I’d like them to. But since I had just reinstalled the OS I decided to work on getting my settings and things back to the way I like them and install updates, etc. Several minutes went by where Steam was still uninstalling and I was setting up My Documents, Music, etc. to point to the appropriate directories on other drives. Then I noticed something very strange indeed.

The hard drive on which I store all my Steam games had about 150 GB more free space than it used to.

What?! Steam wouldn’t delete all of my games without asking me first, would it? I navigated to my Steam folder and noticed a number of things missing. Oh carp! It was deleting the game contents! I quickly pressed the cancel button on the uninstaller. Surely it was smart enough to only remove the game files but leave the save data, right? But the cancel button was no use. One by one, every single game was deleted from the Steam directory, including the save data for games that store saves in the game directory. And eventually the Steam directory itself was removed.

All traces of Steam were removed from my system. There was no warning. There was no confirmation. No simple dialog asking “This will remove all game data from your PC. Are you sure you want to continue?”

My 300 GB drive that was almost completely filled with Steam games suddenly had no Steam games at all. And while it is only aggravating having to download them again, the thing that makes it infuriating is that the save files for those games were also deleted.

Maybe you didn’t know this, but some games are really hard. Some games have a lot of content and allow you to spend hundreds of hours exploring or otherwise remaining engaged in the game. Some games are both hard and have tens or hundreds of hours of content. This makes the loss of such data a significant blow to anyone who has invested the time and effort involved. Hundreds of hours of work (and play!), gone in a flash because your installer didn’t think to warn people about the significant data loss they would experience when uninstalling the client.

Lots of uninstallers give you the option to keep user data. At the very least yours should have a confirmation prompt warning about the data loss and asking the user if they are sure they want to continue.
Games  Steam  shared  from google
june 2011 by cloudseer
Google Swiffy
New from Google:

Swiffy converts Flash SWF files to HTML5, allowing you to reuse
Flash content on devices without a Flash player (such as iPhones
and iPads).

shared  from google
june 2011 by cloudseer
Single-Save Games
Capcom tries to kill used video game sales with the one-save game: I’m sure gamers will just take this sitting down, with nary a single complaint.
In a very sad twist, Capcom’s fighting back against the second-hand game market with a game that can only support one save file — for life.
It’s been confirmed that Resident Evil: Mercenaries 3D for the Nintendo 3DS is a game that once finished, cannot be reset for complete replay.
This is also why textbook publishers love the idea of ebooks – they can kill the secondary market by preventing an ebook from being resold.

Click here to comment on this entry
shared  from google
june 2011 by cloudseer
✚ AeroPress
As I write this sentence there is a hot cup of coffee sitting next to me, brewed using an AeroPress.

I own a drip coffee maker, a Turkish coffee maker, two french presses, a stove-top espresso maker, a siphon, and now an AeroPress. The stove-top makers never get used; the drip maker is only for when lots of company comes over; the siphon gets used about once a week at most; and the french press gets used every single day. Until today.

Savvy readers of the site will know that pretty much every day of the week I brew half a pot of french press coffee. The siphon also makes great coffee and is a lot of fun to use. But it takes lot of work and is very impractical for daily coffee making.

This is where the AeroPress comes in. It makes a cup of coffee on par with the french press and the siphon and is the easiest of them all to clean up.

You can’t ask if the AeroPress makes a better or worse cup of coffee than a french press or siphon — AeroPress brews coffee differently and brings out different flavors and tones. It is not better or worse, it is different, and yes, it is good. If you like french press and/or siphon then I bet you will also like AeroPress.

There are many ways to brew a cup of coffee with AeroPress. The common way is to brew it more similarly to how an espresso machine would: by pushing a little amount of water through a lot of fine grounds in a short amount of time. Once you’ve brewed and pressed your AeroPress your cup only has about 3 – 4 ounces of coffee in it. Very strong coffee. Then you can add hot water or hot milk.

There are some huge advantages to this type of brewing that you will never get with a french press:

You brew the AeroPress with 175-degree water. Using a bit cooler of water means you are far less likely to burn your grounds and so more likely to end up with a cup of coffee that is not very bitter or acidic.

You brew a lot of grounds with very little water and you do it quickly. This means you don’t over extract the coffee and your chances of ending up with that smokey-burnt flavor is also far less.

After brewing you can then add piping hot water to your 4 ounces of AeroPressed coffee and bring the temperature back up to piping. I, for one, like my coffee to be as hot as possible.

All of the above advantages to the AeroPress can be overcome by someone who is good at making french press. There is no reason you can’t brew a great cup of french press (I do it every day), but the margin for error is smaller with the AeroPress. However, there is one advantage that the AeroPress has which the french press or siphon will never have: clean up.

The AeroPress basically cleans itself as you use it. Once you’re done pressing your coffee, you simply untwist the plastic filter cap, pop the coffee puck into the trash, rinse off the bottom of the rubber plunger, and you’re done. Clean up takes about 10 seconds. By far, my biggest annoyance of making french press coffee every day is the cleanup.

If you’re persnickety about your coffee and brew some every day then the AeroPress may be your cup of tea.
shared  from google
june 2011 by cloudseer
CSS gradients and background images
Let’s say you have a web page with a solid pale blue background color with a background image positioned on top of it.

body { background: #a5c9e5 url(img.png) no-repeat 50% 300px; }
And this is the result:

See example 1 HTML.

Then you heard about CSS3 gradients and thought, “Wow! Now instead of a solid pale blue in the background, I can have a dark blue to pale blue fade!”

With this line of thinking, one may think that taking the ‘background-color’ value part of the shorthand above (‘#a5c9e5′), and replacing it with a ‘linear-gradient’ property would do the trick:

body { background: linear-gradient(top, #1e5799 0%,#a5c9e5 100%) url(img.png) no-repeat 50% 300px; }
But that’s not how it works. Despite the fact that you can define them using hexadecimal, rgb, or rgba, CSS background gradients are not like background colors, but instead are like background images.

So to get effect we described above on the same element, our browser would need to support multiple backgrounds, and we’d need to declare it like so.

body {
linear-gradient(top, #1e5799 0%,#a5c9e5 100%),
url(img.png) no-repeat 50% 300px;
(Note: For the sake of simplicity, this example CSS is simplified without all the additional declarations that use vendor prefixes.)

But when testing that out, we only see the gradient.

See example 2 HTML

Where’s the background image? It’s there, but under the gradient. The order in which the background images are specified matters. If we rearrange the properties so that the image is first and the gradient is second:

body {
url(img.png) no-repeat 50% 300px,
linear-gradient(top, #1e5799 0%,#a5c9e5 100%);
The image will show up as desired – on top of the gradient.

See example 3 HTML.

Think of CSS gradients not as a color, but as images. The guidelines for combining multiple background images apply to CSS gradients, too.

Source of train picture.

Categorized  shared  from google
june 2011 by cloudseer
Man Robbed Bank for $1, Hoping to Be Sent to Prison, So as to Obtain Health Care
NBC News:

That’s right, James Verone says he has no medical insurance. He
has a growth of some sort on his chest, two ruptured disks and a
problem with his left foot. He is 59 years old and with no job and
a depleted bank account. He thought jail was the best place he
could go for medical care and a roof over his head. Verone is
hoping for a three-year sentence.

Only in America.

shared  from google
june 2011 by cloudseer
What Happened to the Imperial Presidency?
The War Powers Resolution forbids American forces to stay in a war zone for more than 60 days without authorization from Congress. May 20th was the 60th day of U.S. involvement in the war in Libya.

The Office of Legal Counsel and the Pentagon’s general counsel both advised President Obama that the U.S.’s involvement in NATO operations against Qaddafi amounted to hostilities, and thus the administration would need to end American involvement or receive approval from Congress. Obama overruled them, and insisted our involvement doesn’t amount to hostilities:

But Mr. Obama decided instead to adopt the legal analysis of several other senior members of his legal team — including the White House counsel, Robert Bauer, and the State Department legal adviser, Harold H. Koh — who argued that the United States military’s activities fell short of “hostilities.” Under that view, Mr. Obama needed no permission from Congress to continue the mission unchanged.

We are providing surveillance and refueling for NATO planes, two things that are absolutely required to continue operations, and we continue to use unmanned drones to fire missiles at targets on the ground. It is the President’s contention that those three things do not amount to “hostilities”?

The executive branch routinely has disagreements with Congress, but what’s ridiculous about this is just how quiet the left has been about it. This sounds remarkably similar to what Democrats rightly criticized the Bush administration for doing, but we’ve heard little more than silence. Apparently, an “imperial presidency” is only a concern if it isn’t their guy in the White House.
links  Politics  shared  from google
june 2011 by cloudseer
iA Writer: On Prices and Features
Oliver Reichenstein wrote a fantastic post about how iA came up with and decided on the pricing and features for their Writer app (my review here), this point really stuck out to me:
Even though iA Writer for iPad is a professional’s tool, it is sold in an amateur environment at amateur prices.
So very true of the iOS App Store. The entire post is worth the read if you wonder why Writer for the Mac is priced the way it is.
Links  app_store  ia  pricing  writer  shared  from google
june 2011 by cloudseer
W3C Finalizes CSS 2.1; Meyer, Gustafson, Pope, and Malarkey weigh in.
“CASCADING STYLE SHEETS Level 2 Revision 1 (CSS 2.1) Specification (or CSS 2.1 to its friends) has become a real boy, with W3C stamping its seal of approval and making the spec a W3C Recommendation. But in an age of rapidly iterating browsers that are already working hard to win the race regarding CSS3 compatibility, is the W3C now an anachronism? Standard[s] advocates don’t seem to think so.”

—Craig Grannell, .net magazine, 9 June 2011 It’s official: W3C finalises CSS 2.1
Standards  State_of_the_Web  W3C  Web_Design_History  shared  from google
june 2011 by cloudseer
Netflix Streaming Sucks
Once again, I tweeted something that some people are not understanding, due to no fault of theirs, it's just hard to get complex ideas out in 140 characters, so it warrants a full blog post.

Bottom line: Netflix streaming sucks and here's why.

I have tried this on several devices, so I know it's not the device.  I've streamed on my 360, my iPad, my Apple TV and directly on my TV (which has a LAN port and if that doesn't scare the crap of TV networks, nothing will) and I get the same crappy results.

I'll start watching the movie (in HD) and everything is more-or-less OK.  The movies are compressed more than I'm used to on iTunes, as I can see artifacts, but it's not so bad that it's a deal breaker.

It should also be noted, that I am extremely picky when it comes to visual quality.  I love watching movies and I relish a nice crisp clean picture.  I rent a lot of movies on my Apple TV via iTunes and despite it being 720p, they are gorgeous on a big HD TV.

OK, so I start watching the Netflix movie and about 10 or 15 minutes into the movie...bam..I'm watching a crappy YouTube video.  Blocky compression, artifacts everywhere and I want to gouge my eyes out.  I give it 10 or 15 more minutes and it goes back to HDish quality and 15 or so minutes later, I'm back to crappy quality and out comes the eye-fork.

People keep saying "it's your internet connection" but i call bullshit on that (but in a nice non-sweary way).

When I rent a movie on my Apple TV via iTunes, I press the button that says "Yes, I really want to rent this" and a message pops up that says "Your movie will be ready to watch in a few moments" and 30 seconds later I start watching and the quality is absolutely perfect and I watch the entire movie and it never pauses or downgrades.

Why?  Because the Apple TV/iTunes buffers enough of the movie locally based on my Internet connection speed to allow me to watch it.

Why doesn't Netflix do this?  It's not rocket science here.  Will people really get upset when they have to wait 30 seconds before watching their movie?  If Netflix is worried about that, then have an option for waiting and let the antsy-pants people start watching immediately.  Keep buffering while it sits on some "Press Play to Watch" screen for the people that care about quality.

Now, I've brought this up with some of my friends, and inevitably they say "It doesn't do that for me", then I describe the problem in more detail and they say "Oh that, yeah, I do see that but it doesn't bother me".  Maybe this doesn't happen to other people or maybe it's just that other people's definition of quality isn't as stringent as mine.

So why does Netflix streaming do this?  I have a couple of theories that don't involve Netflix having crappy programmers.

One is that the movie studios won't let them buffer more than X seconds.  Part of me thinks this can't be true, but then another part of me thinks that movie studios really are that stupid (I read a great quote a while back that said "If big media companies want to survive, they should fire everyone over thirty).

The other theory is that the internet bandwidth issues are not on my end, but on Netflix's end.  They are the ones that can't handle the output, so there is no way for them to know how much to pre-buffer.  I don't think this is true, because it doesn't matter when I watch, I consistently see this behavior.  Also, when the quality degrades, I press pause for a while to see if that will clear it up and it never does, so I suspect there isn't much (if any) pre-buffering going on.

Of course, the end result of all this is that I don't watch movies on Netflix, which is too bad because there is a lot of stuff I'd love to watch without paying $3.99 to rent it on iTunes.  But as it stands now, the $3.99 is worth the quality.  I just wish Netflix tried harder and actually cared about quality, or would at least come clean with why this is happening.

I bet iTunes looks so good because Steve Jobs cares about quality and probably uses iTunes and if he saw a badly compressed movie on iTunes he's just go punch someone.  I wish I could punch someone at Netflix.

*Threat of violence against someone at Netflix was used solely as a literary device not as an actual threat.
shared  from google
june 2011 by cloudseer
The secrets of Node's success

Browser wars and JavaScript performance
The rehabilitation of JavaScript
Node.js solves a real problem
Evented I/O
Sharing code between the browser and server
Critical mass for Node.js
Node is not the "next" anything

In the short time since its initial release in late 2009, Node.js has captured the interest of thousands of experienced developers, grown a package manager and a corpus of interesting modules and applications, and even spawned a number of startups.

What is it about this technology that makes it interesting to developers? And why has it succeeded while other server-side JavaScript implementations linger in obscurity or fail altogether?

The key factors are performance, timing, and focusing on a real problem that wasn't easily solved with other server-side dynamic languages.

Browser wars and JavaScript performance

In the early 2000s, AJAX web development was coming into its own and placing increasing demands on browsers' JavaScript engines. New JavaScript libraries such as YUI, Dojo and jQuery were allowing developers to do much more with web user interface (UI), creating a user experience for web applications that mimicked the behavior of desktop applications.

As JavaScript libraries and websites became more complex and users started to notice poor performance in their browsers, browser developers started to focus seriously on their JavaScript engines.

The race for faster JavaScript engines heated up in September 2008 when Google released Chrome and the Chromium source code. The engine behind it was V8 and it outperformed all others. This helped spur the developers of Firefox, Safari, Opera and Internet Explorer to improve JavaScript performance in their browsers and it opened a new front in the browser wars.

Technically speaking, V8 takes a slightly novel approach to improving performance. Certain JavaScript objects are dynamically compiled directly into native machine code before execution based on a predictive analysis of the code.

This, along with a new approach to property access and a more efficient garbage collection system enabled Chrome to initially post significantly faster benchmarks than other browsers.

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The other browsers responded with improved or completely rewritten JavaScript engines that matched or exceeded V8's benchmarks. These optimizations are still going on, and Google's V8 is benefiting from the healthy, often technically brilliant, competition. Compared to the interpreters for server-side dynamic languages like Ruby, Python, PHP and Perl, JavaScript now has several efficient and incredibly fast runtimes.

Ryan Dahl, creator of Node.js, chose the V8 engine for Node. This has an additional benefit for a server-side implementation.

The predictive optimization of JavaScript works fairly well in the Chrome browser, but it is much more effective for server applications where the same chunks of code tend to be run multiple times. V8 is able to refine its optimizations and soon ends up with very efficient cached machine code.

Node has an additional performance advantage (a big one) that is not directly tied to V8, but we'll get to that in a bit.

The rehabilitation of JavaScript

JavaScript was once widely regarded as an awful hack of a language. Many programmers still feel this way, but the prejudice is starting to fade, mostly because there is a growing body of good code that shows off the language.

One person who has done much to pinpoint JavaScript's technical weak points is Douglas Crockford. Fortunately, instead of stopping there, he has also created JSLint and written "JavaScript: The Good Parts" to help developers write better code while avoiding most of the "bad parts" of the language. In his presentations and posts, one of his core assertions is that:

... despite JavaScript's astonishing shortcomings, deep down, in its
core, it got something very right. When you peel away the cruft, there
is an expressive and powerful programming language there. That
language is being used well in many Ajax libraries to manage and
augment the DOM, producing an application platform for interactive
applications delivered as web pages. Ajax has become popular because
JavaScript works. It works surprisingly well.

Without getting into the details of which parts are good or bad, we have seen in the past few years that professional developers have come to realize that JavaScript is not going away. Many of developers have gotten on with the task of building complex, well-designed applications and libraries. There are still problems with JavaScript and with its specification, but programmers are now much less likely to dismiss it out of hand.

Previous server-side JavaScript frameworks had a much harder time overcoming the negative mindset about the language. By the time Node arrived, JavaScript had overcome the most of its image problem.

Node.js solves a real problem

Wikipedia has a fairly comprehensive "Comparison of server-side JavaScript solutions". Node is in there, but most of the others listed are not nearly so well known. The use of the term "solutions" is interesting, as most of these projects are solutions to problems that have already been solved by other languages.

Python, Java, Ruby, PHP, Perl and others are all still extremely good choices for most types of dynamic web applications. They talk to databases, crunch numbers, validate data, and parse templates. They are high-level languages, and there are several MVC frameworks for each of them for quick web app creation. Node is sometimes touted as the next Ruby-on-Rails, but this a bad comparison and misses the point of what Node is for.

Node is not trying to solve the same problems as Rails, and it's not competing head-on with any of the other languages or frameworks in the areas where they do well. It was made for, and is most successful at, solving a special set of problems with modern web applications. What can it do that these other languages cannot?

It turns out that what JavaScript can do is the flip side of something it can't do: blocking I/O.

Evented I/O

JavaScript itself can't actually read or write to the filesystem. This ability was omitted from the language because it wasn't necessary for its job in the browser, so Node was able to start from scratch with an I/O system based on event loops.

Node is all about "evented I/O," but what does that actually mean?

To those of us who are either not programmers or are not familiar with event loops, an analogy might help.

You're in a grocery store with a list of items to buy. You wheel your cart around the store, pick up one item at a time, put it in your cart, then take the cart through the checkout. You can optimize this slightly by fetching the items in a sane order, but you can't go get the milk while you're waiting at the deli counter.

If you're in a hurry, you might start thinking of crazy ways to speed up the process. You could enlist a number of other shoppers with shopping carts and send each out to buy a single item. This would create bottlenecks in narrow isles and a huge traffic jam at the checkout

This is clearly an insane way to solve the issue because it throws more shopping carts and cash registers at the problem than needed.

Programming languages that block on I/O often try to solve similar problems by spawning additional threads or processes (c.f. Apache, sendmail). This can be expensive in terms of memory usage, and an analysis of Python's Global Interpreter Lock shows just how expensive the traffic jam can be in terms of CPU utilization.
JavaScript and Node use event loops and callbacks to approach the problem differently.

Returning to the shopping example: If you had a group of kids along with you on your shopping trip, you could send each off to get a single item and return them to the cart. When they've all returned, you can proceed through the checkout. The time taken in fetching items would be the maximum time for retrieving a single item (the kid who had to wait at the deli counter), rather than the sum (picking up the items in sequence). Using runners for the small, simple task of fetching items is a more efficient way of parallelizing the problem than sending out full-fledged shoppers and carts.

It's not a perfect analogy by any means, but more succinct and accurate descriptions involve code or pseudo-code. Ryan Dahl's initial presentation at JSConf 2009 used the following example:

var result = db.query("select..");
// use result

Here the database query blocks the program from doing anything else until the query is returned, whereas in an event loop:

db.query("select..", function (result) {
// use result

... the program can continue doing things while waiting for the function to call provide its callback.

Node provides non-blocking libraries for database, file and network access. Since I/O is not a fundamental part of JavaScript, nothing had to be taken away to add them. Python's Twisted and Ruby's Event Machine have to work around some basic language components in order to get similar evented behavior.

So, in addition to the performance wins Node gets "for free" by using the V8 JavaScript engine, the event loop model itself allows Node servers to handle massive concurrencies in network connections very efficiently. It often approaches the benchmarks achieved by high-performance reverse proxies like Nginx (which is also based on an event loop).

Sharing code between the browser and server

Using the same language on the server that you're … [more]
Programming  javascript  nodejs  server  shared  from google
june 2011 by cloudseer
Digital Memories using Printsgram
Since Instagram released a public API, developers have utilized it to create new ways where you can view all the photos you’ve taken with the app in places other than your iPhone. A handful I’ve liked but none of which have given one that ability to create something tangible with your photographs aside from keeping them incubated in a screen.

I assume you photograph people, places or things for a reason and as likely as you are to have a broader audience admire your work online or within the app itself, you still have people around you that would be just as receptive for the stuff you shoot as anyone else if you shared them.

There’s days where I may not be as lively on Twitter but it’s quite the opposite with Instagram in that I keep myself visually busy using the app everyday and I’ll be darn if the people who follow me are the only ones who are aware of the type of things I shoot.

My wife doesn’t use Instagram and I would probably have more luck getting into an argument trying to convince her to use it than to see her posting anything on her own volition. Other than putting a screen in front of her, how else can I showcase to her the photos I’ve taken using the app? Well, there’s Printsgram which is a “social printing service where you can turn your digital memories into real life objects such as posters, stickers, photo cubes and more” using the massively popular Instagram. I always come across these amazing services but could never recall how but what’s important is that I did.

Despite what the name of the service may indicate, Printsgram doesn’t do the actual printing but provides with a printable PDF so that you can print them yourself or get them printed at a local print shop. The service is free and offers a nice range of layout templates for your photos and you can also choose to share your creations on the site and have people download them.

I went with an A3 Poster layout where I easily dragged and dropped my favorite Instagram photos, entered a title, downloaded the PDF, pulled out an 8 1/2 x 11 sheet of photo paper to print it on and surprised Vanessa with it. The rest is history.
Photography  Projects  Instagram  shared  from google
june 2011 by cloudseer
Jeffrey Way Talks CodeIgniter
Yesterday Jeffrey Way, Editor of Nettuts+ did a video tutorial on Easy Authentication using CodeIgniter. As part of the tutorial he takes you through the process of building an authentication system with CodeIgniter and how to restrict access to certain parts of your website to only those who’ve logged in.
Community_Voice  shared  from google
may 2011 by cloudseer
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