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FirstLook: WeatherCal 1.0
Filed under: Software, First Look

Wouldn't it be nice to get a weather forecast whenever you look at iCal? That's the premise behind WeatherCal 1.0, a new Mac application from Bare Bones Software. WeatherCal inserts a five-day weather forecast for your favorite cities right into iCal (above). If you're syncing your iPhone to iCal, that means you have the forecast in your pocket as well:
Continue reading FirstLook: WeatherCal 1.0
TUAWFirstLook: WeatherCal 1.0 originally appeared on The Unofficial Apple Weblog (TUAW) on Wed, 25 Mar 2009 14:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.
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march 2009
Installer hits the desktop, allows jailbroken apps without jailbreaking
Dan Moren at Macworld reports on an interesting development in the Jailbreaking wars. Installer.app now has a desktop application that lets you install those nasty jailbroken apps directly from the desktop...without jailbreaking your precious iPhone. The application looks like iTunes and works almost as easily. If we weren't rocking the 3.0 firmware, we'd be testing this right now. Anyone out there want to be the guinea pigs?
march 2009
Apple's Bluetooth headset gets the axe
Filed under: Accessories, Hardware, iPhone, Apple History
I'll admit it: I loathe Bluetooth headsets. It's impossible to walk around with one of those things protruding from your head without looking like a total tool. No one's impressed, Lieutenant Uhura.I'd like to think it was that reason that prompted Apple to stop selling the iPhone Bluetooth headsets, but it was probably poor sales. We don't have sales figures, of course, but I've never seen one in the wild.* It's also possible that Apple is up to something else. You'll remember that iPhone OS 3.0 touts support for A2DP Stereo Bluetooth connectivity among its features. The headset which shipped with the 1st generation iPhone had a built-in switch, similar to the one included with the current iPod shuffle. Perhaps a future model will control the iPod and answer calls over Bluetooth? If so, it had better be pretty cool. *Out of fairness, I'll state that I live in a town of 4,000. Not exactly a hive of early adopters.TUAWApple's Bluetooth headset gets the axe originally appeared on The Unofficial Apple Weblog (TUAW) on Mon, 23 Mar 2009 22:15:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.
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march 2009
TUAW @SXSW: The comics on handhelds panel
Filed under: Multimedia, iPhone, iPod touch, SXSW
Chances are, if you're reading TUAW, you most likely love all things Apple and Mac. You may also be an iPhone or iPod touch user. And, like many Apple lovers (including myself), you may also be a fan of comic books. If so, what if you want to take your comics on the road with you and don't want to lug around a huge stack of titles? Instead of having to take paper comics, what if you could digitize them and read them on your handheld?Well, those are just the type of questions I hoped to have answered by attending the Comics on Handhelds panel at South by Southwest Interactive last week. On the panel were Douglas Edwards, CEO of UCLICK, Molly Crabapple of Dr. Sketchy's Anti-Art School, Dave Bort, a Google/Android Engineer, Rantz Hoseley, CEO of the LongBox Group and Richard Stevens of "Diesel Sweeties" fame. The panel was moderated by comics creator and mobile comics proponent Dan Goldman.First off, Goldman started with a definition of what comics are: stories told with words and pictures. He explained that comics can be in any form and do not have to be on paper in order to be considered "comics."With that out of the way and hoping to provide a "common starting place," Goldman next went into a discussion of formatting comics for mobile devices and alternative delivery methods, using Warren Ellis and Paul Duffield's "FreakAngels" as an example; it works well on a mobile device despite being made originally for the printed page."Change in platform demands change in format," Goldman said.Continue reading TUAW @SXSW: The "comics on handhelds" panel
TUAWTUAW @SXSW: The "comics on handhelds" panel originally appeared on The Unofficial Apple Weblog (TUAW) on Mon, 23 Mar 2009 23:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.
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march 2009
Spootnik
Syncs Basecamp to do and Omnifocus. I don't like that you have to use their WebDAV server though. :-\
march 2009
Windows Vista Exec's Solo Album Almost As Good As Vista
Former Microsoft (MSFT) Windows executive Jim Allchin, who left the company in early 2007, has had enough time on his hands to release a solo guitar-and-vocals album, "Enigma."

It hit iTunes on Tuesday, and some comedian at Apple (AAPL) had the foresight to put it into the "What we're listening to" featured section in Apple's music store. (See below.) The music is pretty terrible, but the reviews are incredible. Guess which reviewers work for Microsoft and which don't.

Allchin's guitar work is a Claptonesque tour de force. A refreshing and inspired first effort from a brilliant engineer now channeling his passion in a new creative direction. Overtones of the Allman brothers in their prime set Allchin apart as a bluesman to be reckoned with. Eager for more.

I've never heard of this guy (or whoman?) before or heard more than 11 seconds of one of his songs but this stuff is crazy good! Endigma Machine is rad! Buy this album RIGHT NOW like I"m going tto. :^)

This is literally one of the, if not THE, worst albums I've heard. I'd say it's the "Ishtar" of music, but that would be doing a grave disservice to "Ishtar". I cringe when I hear this, and I'm at a loss for words to describe why it's so bad.Is iTunes offering just anyone the opportunity to sell their crap on their sight...this is not Craig's list!Come on guys. The good reviews here are obviously from within the Washington state area, if you catch my drift. Jim, go back to management.

Here's a bonus video of Jim shredding.

[YouTube Video]

Join the conversation about this story »
See Also:
Why Vista Is Failing: R&D Budget Went To Springsteen Cover BandIs Apple About To Shuffle The Headphone Industry Again? (AAPL)Why Windows 7 Is Doomed: R&D Budget Going To Fake Boy Band
from google
march 2009
Cisco Buys Pure Digital, Makers of the Flip Video Cameras
Its a good acquisition for Cisco, but I hope they let the Flip continue to be the Flip.
march 2009
IPhone 3.0 listings show four all-new iPhone, iPod touch models
Tucked within Apple's iPhone 3.0 beta firmware are hardware strings that mention not one but two unreleased iPhone models as well as similar changes in store for the iPod touch.
march 2009
WeatherCal Inserts Updating Forecasts into iCal
No, it doesn't do grep. Long-time developer Bare Bones Software has branched out from feature-rich applications like BBEdit and Mailsmith with the $10 WeatherCal, a System Preference pane that has a single purpose in life: to populate iCal with weather forecasts so you can better plan for upcoming local events and trips to far-off spots.


WeatherCal's interface is minimal, letting users create calendars for multiple locations by clicking the + button. You can find locations by name, ZIP code, and airport code, but WeatherCal automatically creates a default location by reading the location from the entry you've designated as "My Card" in Address Book. You can edit each location's name as desired, and deselecting a location's checkbox removes its events from your calendar without deleting the calendar itself. Removing a calendar entirely is merely a matter of selecting it and clicking the - button.





Once configured, WeatherCal creates a normal iCal calendar for each location, displaying the current conditions for the current day and a simplified forecast for the next five days. (Bare Bones tells me that sometimes the weather feeds provide more than five days of forecasts for U.S. locations, and sometimes less than that for international locations.) As with all other iCal calendars, you can set the color of the calendar by selecting it in iCal, pressing Command-I, and choosing a new color from the pop-up menu.





Double-click one of WeatherCal's events and you'll see a URL that will load the Weather Underground Web page for that location, making additional information a mere three clicks and an application change away.


The calendars are rolling, meaning that you'll only ever see events for the current day and the next five days; WeatherCal tidies up after itself so you don't have past weather conditions cluttering your calendar.


Being normal iCal calendars, they'll also sync to your iPhone or iPod touch, and will display with any iCal-savvy utilities like Second Gear's Today, which provides an at-a-glance view of your events and tasks in iCal.


And well, that's it. WeatherCal is a one-trick pony, but it's a clever trick, and a useful one to boot. With it, you can easily tell, when making plans for next weekend, if the weather is likely to be amenable for a picnic. And if the drivers in your area freak out with a little rain or snow, knowing the forecast when making plans for a meeting across town next week could save you from an unpleasant traffic jam. Or, if you're planning a trip to Macworld Expo next year, adding San Francisco to your calendar ahead of time will give you a sense of how to pack.


Obviously, there are a ton of ways to find weather information on the Internet these days, but context is king, and having weather information in your face while you're making plans is, in my mind, worth 10 bucks. It requires Mac OS X 10.5 or later, and is a 2.6 MB download.


I'm a minor weather geek, to the point where I regularly check out the Ithaca Climate Page on the Web and buy the Ithaca Weather Calendar each year for its updated almanac information. From that standpoint, I can see a few features Bare Bones could implement for WeatherCal 2.0. iCal events have a Notes field that would be perfect for textual forecast information, for instance. (Bare Bones said that parsing that information in a reliable fashion from the different weather feeds they use is non-trivial.) Plus, since WeatherCal knows current conditions, it could optionally create another calendar in iCal with the high and low temperature for each day, enabling users to go back to
see what the weather was like in the past. Nevertheless, these are trivial suggestions - WeatherCal seems fully baked as it stands, and I look forward to using it throughout the upcoming seasons.



 
Copyright © 2009 Adam C. Engst. TidBITS is copyright © 2009 TidBITS Publishing Inc. If you're reading this article on a Web site other than TidBITS.com, please let us know, because if it was republished without attribution, by a commercial site, or in modified form, it violates our Creative Commons License.

Speak up with MacSpeech Dictate! Get the all-new MacSpeechDictate with spelling and phrase training. Speech recognitionso good, about the only thing it can't do is speak for you.Learn more: <http://www.tidbits.com/about/support/macspeech.html>

 
from google
march 2009
Espionage Review: Easily Secure Your Files
Security on the Internet has been a big issue for a while now. It is fairly common because the hacker or scammer does not need to be at the same location as you. But there is also the issue of keeping your computer safe. If you have no protection, and it gets stolen, all your data can be read by others. Even if you just go to the bathroom at Starbucks and leave your computer unwatched, there is potential risk. Although these types of theft are fairly uncommon, you may still want to secure yourself. An application that can help you with this is Tao Effect’s Espionage.

Espionage’s biggest advantage over other security software is its Application Templates and Application Associations. Instead of having to encrypt your Mail folder, and then decrypt it whenever you want to read your Mail, Espionage does this automatically for you. Just go to File>Application Templates… and choose Mail. You will then choose a password and choose what type of encryption to use. AES-256 is more secure than AES-128, but it is not needed for everything, and it takes longer to encrypt and decrypt. It should really only be used for extremely secret documents. Once you click Go, you will be prompted with the Application Associations window. This allows you to edit the password for the application, the location and the type of encryption. If you click Edit Application Associations, you will be prompted with a sheet that allows you to set the application to Lock on Quit and to have it launch at startup. This is different from a regular ‘Launch at Startup,’ because this actually delays the application’s startup so Espionage can unlock its folder. So, do not set an application to launch at startup in System Preferences if you are using Espionage to secure its data–Use Espionage’s ‘Launch at Startup.’ You can do this process not only for Mail.app, but for 17 other apps too.

But, what if an application whose data you want secured is not in the list of Templates? Well, you can just create your own Application Association. If you go to the Application Associations window (command-L), you can create your own Associations. If you want to secure MarsEdit’s data, just drag the data (~/Library/Application Support/MarsEdit) onto the window. You will then be prompted with a sheet that allows you to choose the encryption, password, and associated application. In this case, the associated application would be MarsEdit. You have now created your own Association. So, although Espionage only comes with 18 Templates, you can make Associations for any application you wish (so long as it stores its data on your hard drive…).

Espionage does also allow you to do normal file encryption. You just drag the file (or folder) on Espionage’s window, choose the encryption type, but just don’t specify an Association. Every time you try to access the folder, Espionage will ask you for your password.

With Espionage, you can also easily backup all encrypted folders. If you go to the Backup tab of Espionage>Preferences…, you can specify all the options for the backup. And, you don’t have to backup all of your encrypted files, you can just choose which ones you want. You can also specify when to backup.

Espionage also includes a rather interesting feature for an encryption app. It allows you to do encryption-less protection. When you create a new folder encryption, if instead of choosing AES-128 or AES-256, you choose No Encryption, Espionage will not actually encrypt it. What it does do, however, is make it much harder for someone to access it. They still could (if they knew how), but if you are leaving your computer for 2 minutes to go to the bathroom (and it’s locked in place), this may be the best choice.

Tao Effect’s Espionage retails for $24.95 and you can download a free, 14-day trial from their site. It provides easy encryption with many built-in Templates and Application Associations. If you are concerned about the security of your computer, you will want to check it out to see if it is unobtrusive enough for you. If you think about it, the $24.95 might pay for itself if your computer is every compromised.
from google
march 2009
New Seattle P-I Shows The Future of Newspapers
The Seattle P-I will shut down its print edition and go web-only.  In the process, it will fire 88% of its newsroom, shrinking its staff from 165 to 20. 

And therein, unfortunately, lies the future of newspapers.

Richard Perez-Pena, New York Times: But the P-I, as it is called, will resemble a local Huffington Post more than a traditional newspaper, with a news staff of about 20 people rather than the 165 it has had, and a site consisting mostly of commentary, advice and links to other news sites, along with some original reporting.

The site has recruited some current and former government officials to write columns, and it will keep some of the popular columnists and bloggers who already work there, in addition to the large number of unpaid local bloggers whose work appears on the site. Hearst also plans to repackage material from its large stable of magazines for the site.

It is no longer unreasonable to ask when the New York Times (NYT) will be forced to do the same thing.  The cuts there won't have to be so severe, at least not for a while. 

The Seattle P-I is one of two local papers in Seattle, and the P-I's subscribers will now start paying for (and getting, the Seattle Times instead.  Here's a Q&A on the Seattle Times' site.

It's worth no
Join the conversation about this story »
See Also:
Seattle Post-Intelligencer Goes Web-OnlySeattle P-I's Online-Only Future Already In Doubt*
from google
march 2009
The Facebook Twitter Story
Heres the story behind the failed Facebook acquisition of Twitter. We said its not worth it. Dont treat us like children. Though the deal is over, the article explains that the two companies continue to talk, just not about an acquisition. And the interesting thing is, Twitter still doesnt actually generate any revenue.
march 2009
Can Twitter Survive What is About to Happen to It?
I am worried about Twitter. I love it the way it is today. But its about to change big time, and I wonder whether it can survive the transition.
march 2009
Where do you turn when you need Happy Birthday
Where do you turn when you need Happy Birthday, Sam spelled out on a red velvet cake in binary? Well, Tipsy Cake, of course. We cant thank them enough for complying with our unusual request so elegantly! Make sure to give them a call when you need an awesome nerdy cake.
march 2009
System Outages Explained
If youve been at ASU this semester, youve probably been inconvenienced by one of the five major system outages weve experienced so far this term. And as you might imagine, Ive received more than a few emails from concerned members of the ASU Community expressing their frustration with being unable to access Blackboard, or My ASU or the various other services that have been affected in the past several weeks.
march 2009
PHOTO: Where do you turn when you need "Happy Birthday
Where do you turn when you need “Happy Birthday, Sam” spelled out on a red velvet cake in binary? Well, Tipsy Cake, of course. We can’t thank them enough for complying with our unusual request so elegantly! Make sure to give them a call when you need an awesome nerdy cake.
from google
march 2009
Visualize Whirled Tweets
Way back in 2007 during the olden days of Twitter we set up plasma screens in the hallways between panels at SXSW Interactive. Tweets from SXSW'ers floated by hypnotizing attendees and introducing them to Twitter. It was tons of fun.This year, the folks behind Twistori and Twennis have created an amazing, interactive visualization of what's happening at SXSW. Pepsi has sponsored the project and it will be displayed on plasmas all over the venue. It's running now so you can see that more people are "arriving" than "drinking," "registering," or "partying." However, that will soon change.Some of the features of this app are Stream (timeline), Popular (trends), Swarm (location), Party Watch, and Overheard. Party watch is going to be super useful if I remember correctly about SXSW and Overheard is hilarious. Congrats to Amy and Thomas for creating such a cool Twitter application and for landing a big sponsor like Pepsico.
from google
march 2009
Meet the incredible new iPod shuffle
Apple today introduced the all-new iPod shuffle. The worlds smallest music player, the 3rd-generation iPod shuffle is nearly half the size of the previous one. To control it, you use the new earphone cord. Best of all, it talks to you. Thanks to the new VoiceOver feature, iPod shuffle speaks your song titles, artists, and playlist names. Available today in silver or black, it holds up to 1,000 songs and costs just $79.
march 2009
P2: The New Prologue
Since we are very distributed company here at Automattic, we use lots of online collaboration tools including IRC, Skype, blogs, and wikis.  The other big thing we’ve been using internally is a WordPress theme called Prologue that we developed last year.

Prologue is essentially a group twitter theme, and we’ve been hard at work updating it ( we are calling the new version P2 ) to include ajax updates, growl-like notifications, threaded comments, and a few other really clever features.  It also looks great on the iPhone !

It’s available right now on WordPress.com, and will be available for self-hosted WordPress within a week or so.   Definitely worth checking out.
from google
march 2009
Spark View Engine
I finally got a chance to spend some time with the Spark View Engine by Louis DeJardin. While I am sure I am just scratching the surface on what you can be accomplished with it, I can say without a doubt I am already in love.
march 2009
Acclimated to Severe Turbulence
Philip Greenspun:

This evening’s New York Times was worrisome. An inset box showed that the S&P 500 had fallen 4.25 percent for the day, wiping out roughly a year of investment returns. A few months ago this would have been the top story. Today, however, it did not even make the front page.

For context, consider this, from Harper’s Index:

Number of times in 2008 that the S&P 500 closed up or down 5 percent in a single day: 17


Number of times between 1956 and 2007 it did this: 17

 ★ 
from google
march 2009
MarsEdit Meets Tumblr
Many of you have been waiting patiently for MarsEdit 2.3, featuring support for Tumblr. Today, I’m happy to release a public beta with these updates. Please feel free to download and give it a try! I would also value your feedback on what I’ve done so far.

Click Here To Download MarsEdit 2.3 Public Beta

Special note for current MarsEdit users: It’s a good idea to make a backup of your current MarsEdit Application Support folder. You’ll find it in your home directory at:

[Home] -> Library -> Application Support -> MarsEdit

For this initial Tumblr support, I have only endeavored to support the Text, Quote, Photo, Link, and Chat post types. Audio and video are on the list for a future enhancement.

While the emphasis of this release is on Tumblr, there are a few goodies that will benefit those of you who are using MarsEdit on other blog systems as well:

Opening the media manager is now much faster with lots of photos
Improved usability and design of the Technorati Tags editor
Improved weblog Favicon detection

Tumblr Caveats

I think there is enough here to get people excited about using MarsEdit for Tumblr, and hopefully you won’t run in to many pitfalls. But there are a few things that I already know are working less than perfectly.

Post options such as selecting between Markdown and HTML , and setting whether a post is public or private, are not yet supported. I hope to support these in an update sometime after 2.3 ships.
Autodetection of weblog settings fails if you host on a custom domain name. To work around this, give MarsEdit your tumblr-based URL, e.g. “http://marsedit.tumblr.com/”. I am working with the Tumblr folks to see if we can facilitate a way for MarsEdit to autodetect settings from a custom domain name.
Only the first tumblelog for an account can be edited with MarsEdit. The Tumblr API has come a long way in recent months, but it is missing the capacity to specify a particular blog to edit when submitting or editing a post.

Have Fun And Keep In Touch

I hope you’ll give this new release of MarsEdit a try, and take the time to send me your feedback if you’ve got it. I’m not aiming for perfection with 2.3, but usable and lovable would be a good start. I appreciate your help in getting us there!
from google
march 2009
Airphones turns your iPhone or iPod Touch into a wireless headset
A new app just hit the App Store that brings some pretty interesting funtionality to Apple's iPhone and iPod Touch. Airphones (iTunes link) takes any sound that would be coming out of your computer and streams it to your iPhone or iPod touch and let's you hear the sound through the built in speakers or headset. That is as long as you are on the same wifi network.

Easy and simple, right? It seems to get good ratings from overall happy customers. We like. Anyone want to report back on how well it works?

From the developer:

AirPhones is the next-generation solution to wireless headphones. Now use your iPhone or iPod Touch to listen to any audio from your computer via Wi-Fi. Experience DVD's, desktop TV, web videos & radio, audio books, shared iTunes playlists and podcasts; from across the room, throughout the office or around the house.

Via Wired
february 2009
Announcing: iPhone Pub Night
Modeled after Toronto’s popular Rails Pub Night, iPhone Pub Night is a meetup of iPhone hackers and would-be hackers at — as the name suggests — a pub.

It’s like the after-meeting drinks that many people enjoy at Ruby.mn, MinneDemo, etc. without the pre-drinks formalities.

When:
Monday, March 23 starting @ 7pm

Where:
Uptown Bar

Address:
3018 Hennepin Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55408

We’ll have the room they usually reserve for concerts. The layout is amenable to sitting and eating and also mingling, so it should be a good fit.

They’re expecting us; it’d be nice to give them an approximation of how many to expect. If you’re planning on coming, do me a favor and write me so I can keep a tally.
from google
february 2009
Apple to further polish Leopard with 10.5.7 update
Apple this week is believed to have tapped its vast developer community to begin testing Mac OS X 10.5.7, a sizable maintenance and security update to the company's Leopard operating system with a particular focus on syncing improvements.
from google
february 2009
Prepayment bonus is back!
Last fall we eliminated the prepayment bonus when we lowered prices on bigger slices. Since then, there’s been a steady stream of pleas in our suggestion box to reinstate it. Ask and ye shall receive – the bonus is back in effect! To get it, make a payment that is the greater of 6x your current monthly bill or $240.

Examples:

Monthly bill: $20 – a payment of $240 or more to get the 10% bonus

Monthly bill: $70 – a payment of $420 or more to get the 10% bonus

We hope this helps people making annual payments on a business credit card or those of you managing your own customer projects on Slicehost. Enjoy!
from google
february 2009
Introducing Safari 4, the world’s fastest and most innovative browser
Apple today announced Safari 4 public beta for Mac and Windows. With its new Nitro engine, Safari 4 runs JavaScript 4.2 times faster than Safari 3. And it features many innovative new features that make browsing more intuitive and enjoyable, including Top Sites, Full History Search, Cover Flow, Tabs on Top, and still others. Safari 4 beta is available for immediate download for the Mac and PC.
from google
february 2009
Great Example of the Pressure of Quarter to Quarter Earnings
A great critical analysis of the challenges that MapQuest faces is on Silicon Alley Insider, written by the former CTO of AOL, namely someone who theoretically had the power to make change and apparently did not? I hate to see crying out of school like this, although I think he does a nice job of breaking it down. Let me be clear: I dont know him, have never met him, and look forward to being his friend as he is way more of a power broker than me. I hope that accusing his post of crying out of school does not taint our relationship.

This is also a great example of something people love to see in blogs: The comments are more constructive than the initial post. Very engaging material is an SEO and traffic gold mine.

Follow on comments discuss how opportunities to invest in MapQuest were passed over because contributions back to the company were needed to make quarterly numbers. This long-term vs short-term tension is found in every public company as their revenue numbers become increasingly difficult to hit. When McKinley discusses how straightforward the Google UI is vs the ad-ridden Mapquest UI, the next question is obviously one of How are you supposed to build a sustainable business, because Googles is clearly heavily subsidized today.

Of course, now you are seeing these same problems at all kinds of businesses as the economy goes south. Google is starving the losers. If Google Maps had not taken the share it had taken in the last year, it could easily find itself on the Google scrap heap as they arbitrage their business to make increasingly challenging quarterly numbers.

Speaking frankly, some of these same challenges exist for me, working at an AOL subsidiary, but the problems are far more nuanced than the comments on this blog imply. I think everyone feels like we are still in the second or third inning of the ball game. There are literally hundreds of tremendous growth opportunities facing the company and we are forced to make decisions about which to pursue. Even if AOL required no contribution, while we could choose more, we could not choose them all. It is easy to point the finger a few years later and say, We should have done that one., but every decision made involves dozens of negative options.

Furthermore, AOL has macro resource decisions that need to be made. They are making decisions across the organizations: Should investments be put into existing profitable properties or invested in new initiatives that have not yet gotten traction.

Other comments discuss the choices made in API delivery: Google offers a free API with no support, Mapquest requires payment and extensive support. Mapquest targets the corporate behemoths, Google targets the long tail. Probably a valuable lesson.

Finally, a great comment by a former AOLer discusses the SEO impact of Mapquest decisions. Mapquest did a poor job of SEOing their site. When they dropped from #1 to #2 in map search results, traffic dropped tremendously. Now they are #4 and Google is #1. Frankly, that could explain virtually the entire tradeoff in traffic. A 20% traffic decline for Mapquest as they drop from #1 to #4? Sounds right.
february 2009
Cha-Ching Touch Preview Site Now Live
http://www.midnightapps.com/chachingtouch is now live.


Get a sneak peak at our upcoming iPhone/iPod Touch application that will sync with Cha-Ching 2.
Visit and sign up to get more information when Cha-Ching Touch becomes available.
from google
february 2009
Boxee removes Hulu, time for Understudy
Boxee got a little letter in the mail this week from ol' Hulu requesting that they no longer incorperate Hulu in their little system. Rather than go up against a consortium of the world's biggest media companies, the team of programmers has complied and Hulu content will no longer be available on Boxee. Remember, there is always Understudy or, even better, Plex for you Mac-equipped Hulu addicts. AppleTV? Notsomuch.

The official bad news from Boxee below:

Friends,

For those of you following the Hulu / TV.com story, we wanted to share the news that Hulu has also requested to be removed from boxee at the request of their content partners.
We've put up a blog post on our site (http://blog.boxee.tv/2009/02/18/the-hulu-situation/) giving a little more insight, but we wanted you to hear it from us first.

Here's the text of our post:
we love Hulu. they have built a great product and brand (including one the best Superbowl ads this year). since our early days in private alpha, Hulu was the most requested site by our users. so we built support for browsing Hulu on boxee, reached out to Hulu, showed it to them, and on Oct 20th, 2008 shared it with our alpha testers (without a formal partnership with Hulu). the response has been amazing. people love watching many of their favorite shows on Hulu via boxee. last week we generated more than 100,000 streams for them...

two weeks ago Hulu called and told us their content partners were asking them to remove Hulu from boxee. we tried (many times) to plead the case for keeping Hulu on boxee, but on Friday of this week, in good faith, we will be removing it. you can see their blog post about the issues they are facing there.

our goal has always been to drive users to legal sources of content that are publicly available on the Internet. we have many content partners who are generating revenue from boxee users and we will work with Hulu and their partners to resolve the situation.

we will tell them how users love Hulu on boxee, why it represents a great opportunity for them to better engage with fans of their shows, how boxee can help in exposing their content to new people, and why they should be excited about future opportunities of working with us.

we will blog/tweet as soon as we have any updates and hopefully we'll be able to bring back the Hulu experience to boxee sooner rather than later.

Best,
Andrew

boxee press kit: http://drop.io/iloveboxee
boxee blog: http://blog.boxee.tv
february 2009
As The Economy Sours, LinkedIn’s Popularity Grows
As layoffs continued to pound the economy in January, one beneficiary was job networking site LinkedIn. According to the latest January data from comScore, the LinkedIn’s U.S. unique visitors shot up 22 percent to 7.7 million, up from 6.3 million in December. Total minutes spent on the site doubled in January to 96.8 million, from 47.6 million in December.

Part of what is driving all the activity is people looking for job, and helping friends who are out of work. Recommendations are up 65 percent since December, says spokesperson Kay Luo. LinkedIn’s improved people search, which it launched at the end of November, is also driving a lot of activity on the site. The company is seeing a 50 percent increase in activity on the new search platform.

When times are tough, networking is a survival skill.

Crunch Network: CrunchBoard because it’s time for you to find a new Job2.0
from google
february 2009
TED2009 Equipment Logistics
Photographing a large and complex event like TED2009 isn’t something you can just show up for. Well, you could, but you won’t get good results. Not at all. To do a good job, make the client happy, and set yourself up to make great photographs, you have to do quite a bit of planning and preparation. Unfortunately for me, I only found out that I was going to be shooting TED a week before the event started. To complicate matters, I was away from home on business at the time and slated to return to Portland the day before I needed to be in Long Beach. To make things even more interesting, I already had travel plans to be in New York for the week after TED to shoot the O’Reilly Tools of Change conference.

By the time everything was sorted out and airline tickets were rebooked, I had thirteen and a half hours in Portland to prepare for both TED and TOC. Luckily, this wasn’t my first rodeo. In the days before returning to Portland, I crafted several lists and action plans to make the most of my limited time to prepare. That way, as soon as I got home to Portland, I could simultaneously unpack what I had taken to the Bay Area and repack for Long Beach and New York.

The first thing I pulled together was my camera kit. This is was on my list to go into the bag:

Two Nikon D700 camera bodies
Nikkor AF-S 14-24mm f/2.8 G lens
Nikkor AF-S 24-70mm f/2.8 G lens
Nikkor AF-S 70-200mm f/2.8 G lens
Nikkor AF-S 50mm f/1.4 G lens
Batteries and charger for the D700s
Monopod
Tripod with ball head
R-Strap
Artic Butterfly sensor brush
Lens cleaning paper
Rocket Blower
Shootsac
WhiBal card
Compact Flash cards (mix of SanDisk 8GB and 4GB)

This is probably what you’d expect to be on the list. A great range of lenses to cover any situation. Two camera bodies so that I can switch quickly between wide angles and close ups and also survive a failure in a body. The problem was that I didn’t have quite all of this in my kit to pack. If you’ve been following me for a while, you’ll know that I’m in the process of building up my Nikon kit and have been using my Canon kit as backup. It wasn’t practical, however, to haul two systems on this trip. I’ve therefore pretty much had to finish building out a complete Nikon kit before leaving for Long Beach. It was certainly a good thing Portland’s Pro Photo supply is open at 7:30AM on Mondays! I was there first thing before heading to the airport to catch my flight to Los Angeles and certainly made the salesman’s day.

Next up, I pulled together the lighting gear:

Two Nikon SB900 speedlights
Orbis ring flash
Five Pocket Wizards and associated sync cords
Nikon TTL sync cord
Rechargeable AA batteries (8 sets of 4)
Maha 8 battery charger
Two lightweight stands
Two umbrella adapters
Two shoot through umbrellas
Two Super Clamps
CTO gels
Honl Speed Straps
Honl snoots
Honl grids
Gaffer tape

If I were just shooting TED, I probably would have taken about half of this lighting gear and might have skipped out on the light stands entirely. But, the TOC stage in New York will probably be weakly lit and I’ll have to supplement with my own light on remote triggers. So, it all came along for the ride to Long Beach.

After all that went into a pile, next up was the computer gear:

MacBook Pro
Power adapter
Time Machine backup drive
Two 100GB external drives
SanDisk Firewire CF Card Reader
Cables, lots of cables
Power strip
EVDO card
iPhone charger cable
Business cards

I’ve found over time that bringing along a power strip helps things amazingly. And, you can never have too many FireWire cords or USB cords. As far as the business cards go, I’ve got some lovely new ones in the works, but for this trip am using a batch I had printed up at Overnight Prints.

Finally, there were clothes. Black pants. Jeans. Shirts. Shoes (Ecco!). That kind of thing. I’ll spare you the list, but I did have one so that I knew what to toss into the washer when I got home.

All of this gear and clothes went into three bags:

ThinkTank Shape Shifter backpack for the camera gear and laptop
A Pelican 1510 hardcase for most of the lighting gear, cables, and stands
My big awesome Eagle Creek suitcase for clothes and the tripod.

The Shape Shifter is a new bag for me, also acquired at 7:30AM on Monday morning. I’ve been wanting a new camera backpack for a while, but hating almost all of the options as bulky or not flexible enough. The Shape Shifter is a new take on the classic camera backpack and so far I’m digging it. I’ll have to write more about it at some point.

So, how’d it go? Did I manage to have everything I needed on site at TED? The answer is that I did pretty well. I ended up using almost everything but the light stands, but those will come in handy at TOC. The one area I totally fumbled on was hard drive space. During the event, all of my images were going onto TED’s Mac Pro towers (and duplicated across multiple disks... I’ll write about the workflow soon as well), but after all was said and done, I had over 200GB of data I needed to pull. Luckily, a 500GB drive was procured and I was able to play a few data shuffle games to get two copies of it all. In the near future, I’ll be standardizing on two 500GB drives for outboard photo data storage.

The other thing I sorely from my Canon kit is my 300mm f/2.8 lens. Of course, it won’t work with my Nikon gear, but there were an entire category of shots that I had to let go because of not having enough reach. Since I was a second shooter and Asa Mathat (the lead shooter) was on the hook for the ultra tight close ups, it wasn’t a big deal. But, in retrospect, I should have rented a 300mm or 400mm super tele from my friends over at BorrowLenses.com. Next time.

So, that’s the gear. Coming up next are posts about how the workflow went as well as some photos from the event!
from google
february 2009
Lighting Up TOC2009
As an event photographer who has worked with lots of different stages, I’ve become quite comfortable working in low light environments. ISO 1600 and even ISO 3200 are my friends and I’ve become quite comfortable with them. The best of stages I’ve worked are lit up in a way that lets a me shoot at 1/250th at f/4.0 or even f/5.6 at ISO 1600. That’s nirvana. On the other hand, sometimes I walk into an event where even the most capable hardware can’t really save the day. Even my D700s can be left gasping for photons to work with to produce a compelling image.

The 2009 Tools of Change for Publishing Conference this last week in New York was such an event. When I walked in on Tuesday morning and checked out the stage lighting, I was greeted with a single hot spot on the podium that was barely suitable for working with. Right there, I could eek out an exposure of 1/100th at f/2.8 at ISO 1600 or ISO 2000. The rest of the stage was an uneven hodgepodge of light that varied down from there by three stops or so. The middle of the stage was a land where even ISO 3200 wouldn’t save me. Even where there were enough photons, they weren’t the kind that would make for good photos. Yes, I’ve got the ability to work at ISO 6400 with the D700s, but I don’t really like to go that far for images that will be used later in print.

The solution is to light up the stage with my own lights in a way that looks like normal stage lighting and which doesn’t seem to bother speakers (much). I set up two Nikon SB-900s on stands up in the balcony and used my trusty Pocket Wizards to trigger them. To illustrate the setup (well, one of the setups I used), I took this photograph from behind the stage during Tim O’Reilly’s keynote. From here, you can see the house lights setup on simple T-bars on the balcony as well as my strobes.

Note how I’ve tucked my lights near the lights that are already up. This helps stealth away the flashes a bit for both the speakers and the audience. Sure, flashes are going off, but when the source is already coming from a bright area, it does tend to reduce their impact. The thing that was most interesting to me as I annotated this image was how much more light my stage right SB-900 was generating at 1/4 power than the three house light fixtures that were sitting right next to it. Just compare the strength of the shadows to see the difference.

Why did I use 1/4 power? There are actually two reasons. First, I want to be able to have a decent recycle time if I need to burst a sequence of shots. The second is that I’ve found that if I go to 1/2 power or above, speakers tend to notice the flashes going off a lot more. Even though I’ve got a job to do, I don’t want to distract the speakers any more than I have to. So, when I add my own light, I tend to only push enough to get to a decent exposure at ISO 1600 and leverage the rest of the available light as best I can. If I had more strobe units with me, I’d drop them down to 1/8 power or less to accomplish the results I want while further improving recycle time.

The bias of the lights towards stage right in this particular setup was intentional as well. During the breakout sessions, this room was divided in two and the setup allowed me to work shots in the north side of the ballroom with my lights. You can just see the centerline air wall track to the left of my strobe in the photograph above. Also, the strong bias to stage right let me play with contrast back and forth. For example, here are two shots of Cory Doctorow taken from opposite sides:

    

As you can see, from stage left, I could get a nice sliver of light on a speaker. From stage right, I could get a more frontally lit view of the speakers. I couldn’t easily run up to the balcony and change my power levels to get different looks during a session, but at least I could shift my shooting position to do so.

I should note that I did shift up my lighting arrangement a couple of times during the event between blocks of speakers. For the most part, I used the lighting setup shown above. At one point, however, I had a light set up to stage left to work with some rim lighting effects, such as with these photos of Sara Lloyd and Jason Fried.

    

In an ideal world—or at least an ideal kit, as in an ideal world the stage lighting would always be sufficient—I’d have a few more lights setup from a few more angles and be able to control their output from my shooting position. Pocket Wizards are great, but they only transmit sync and can’t carry Nikon CLS signaling (or the Canon equivalent) which relies on line-of-sight pre flashes. I need to get my mitts on a set of Radio Poppers in the near future and see what they let me do with CLS over radio. (Psst, hey Radio Popper guys! If you see this and want to see how your new gear works in a big-room multi-strobe setup, I’d love to do a test drive. Drop me a line! I’ll have more setups like this to do this year and am looking for solutions that scale up to 6 or 8 strobes in 3 groups.)

All in all, I’m pretty happy with being able to light up an event like this. It’s not as pretty as some of the fully lit stages I’ve worked on with sophisticated layered lighting, but it does do the trick in a pinch. To see the results from this lighting setup, you can check out the full set of photographs from TOC 2009 on my Zenfolio site.
from google
february 2009
Toys weekend deal: 500GB Pocket Drive, $104.99
We talked this week about the 500 GB sweet spot in laptop hard drives. Another good option has popped up. J&R just marked down the Western Digital 500GB USB External WDME5000TN (Midnight Black) hard drive to $104.99(+$6 Shipping). This is in retail box and is $45 off of list price and less than we could find anywhere else (J&R through Buy.com has it for the same price with more for shipping and tax). Other colors are also available at higher prices.
february 2009
Marvel to unleash digital comic books on iTunes
Marvel Entertainment will help lead the way in exploring a brand-new frontier for content on the iTunes Store. Coming soon to an iPhone or iPod near you: motion comics.
from google
february 2009
10 Secrets of iMovie '09
I'm one of those people who thought iMovie '08 was pretty okay. It advanced consumer video editing on the Mac in several ways, such as having live transitions and effects that don't require re-rendering clips and putting your entire video library at your fingers without opening old projects.


But iMovie '08, having been written from scratch as a new application, was sparse in many areas, especially compared to iMovie HD 6. The good news is that iMovie '09 restores most of iMovie HD's features. (Read my Macworld review of iMovie '09 for more.) The better news is that iMovie '09 boasts a lot of other new features and hidden secrets that aren't immediately apparent.


I'm hard at work on my book iMovie '09 and iDVD for Mac OS X: Visual QuickStart Guide (click this link to pre-order it now and help support TidBITS), and am enjoying discovering many of iMovie's hidden tips and features.


Double-click Clip to View Inspector -- iMovie '09 now collects its adjustment controls in a new Inspector HUD, versus having separate floating panes for video and audio adjustments. You can select a clip and click the "i" icon in the toolbar, or choose an option from the new Action menu that appears on every clip, but it's easier to just double-click the clip to bring up the Inspector. (If you prefer iMovie '08's behavior of double-clicking a clip to play it, you can change the action in iMovie's preferences.)




The adjustment controls can also be invoked from the keyboard by pressing the following letters (with no modifier such as the Command key): I for Clip adjustments; V for Video adjustments; A for Audio adjustments; and C for Cropping, Ken Burns and Rotation adjustments.


View Your Movie on a Secondary Display -- iMovie's monitor occupies the top-right corner of the program's interface, and it can be resized by choosing one of the following sizes from the Window > Viewer submenu: Small (or press Command-8), Medium (Command-9), or Large (Command-0). That feature isn't new (although the keystrokes have changed from iMovie '08).


What's cool about iMovie '09 is that if you work with multiple displays, iMovie can use one of them as the monitor to play back your movie. Choose Window > Viewer on Secondary Display. This feature not only gives you a larger preview - it scales to fit the screen - but it removes the monitor from the iMovie interface, giving you more horizontal room for editing your project.


Copy and Paste Adjustments -- One of iMovie '09's new features is the return of video effects. With a clip selected, bring up the Inspector and click the Video Effect button to view the effects iMovie offers. Now, let's suppose that you also apply some other edits to the clip: increasing the exposure, muting the audio, applying image stabilization, changing its speed, etc. Quite a lot can happen to one clip, as you can see. If the following clip (or other clips) come from the same scene, you'd have to reapply all of those adjustments to make them match up.




Instead, Apple expanded on a powerful feature that deserves attention. With the adjusted clip selected, choose Edit > Copy or press Command-C; all of the adjustments are noted. Then, choose one or more clips and choose which edits to apply from the Edit > Paste Adjustments submenu, either all at once or piecemeal. iMovie '08 could paste only video, audio, or crop adjustments. This version also adds cutaway edits, video effects, stabilization, speed, and map style adjustments.




Move Projects and Events to Other Drives -- In iMovie '08, events (the folders in which raw footage was stored on the hard disk) could be kept on your computer's startup disk or on external disks, but your movie projects had to be located on the startup disk. iMovie '09 gives you the ability to choose where projects are stored, too.


You can also move them from drive to drive, such as when your startup disk is running low on space. Relocating event files in iMovie '08 required that you move the applicable projects in the Finder. Now, drag a project or event to another drive's icon in either the Project Library or the Event Library to copy the content. In the case of relocating project files, you're given the option of copying just the project file or the file and its associated event footage, too. (Here's a video example.) To move the files instead of copy them, hold the Command key while you drag.


Choose Which Clips Appear in Theme Transitions -- iMovie '09 offers new themes that add motion graphics to your clips, specifically to your movie's opening and closing scenes and some transitions. Some themes transition between two clips by, for example, focusing on one clip "mounted" to a bulletin board, zooming out, and then zooming in on the next clip. Other transitions have several clips on the bulletin board.


You can choose which clips appear in which frames. Click one of the theme transitions to view a zoomed-out image that displays all of the available drop zones. A set of numbered yellow pins appears on your footage, each representing one of the drop zones. Drag the pins to the areas of your movie you want to appear in the other photos. (Here's a video example.)




Consistent Map Styles in Themes -- Speaking of themes, the Bulletin Board theme includes a map tacked onto the background of the board. If you already have a map in your project, or you add a new map, the map style on the board automatically assumes the same style from the project for consistency.


Add Locations to Travel Maps -- iMovie includes an internal database of 4,000 cities, airports, and other locations for use when adding markers to its interactive maps. That's a good start, but what if you want a location that isn't included? With a little work, you can add it to iMovie's database. (Credit for this tip goes to user markstew on Apple's iMovie discussion forums.)


First, find the lattitude and longitude coordinates of your destination using a service such as iTouchMap.com. Next, make sure iMovie is not running and open the application's package: Control-click on the iMovie application icon and choose Show Package Contents from the contextual menu. (iMovie, like many applications, is a Mac OS X "package," a folder that appears normally as a single file.)


Go to Contents/Resources/ and open the file WorldLocations.txt using a text editor. Copy an existing entry similar to the one you're about to add; for example, find a city in your state or country. Paste that at the end of the list, and change the city name. Then, copy the coordinates you looked up on the Web and paste them in place of the coordinates in your custom line.


Save the file, close the folders, and launch iMovie. When you add a map and perform a search, your new location appears in the list.


The Date/Time Title -- When you add this title style to a clip, the clip's actual date and title appear. Only the start time is displayed - it won't keep a running clock on your footage - and you can't edit the text style. But if you need a quick notation of when the clip was shot, this title can save you some work.




View Photos from Same Time Period -- If you're like me, you capture not only video during a trip or other occasion, but also a lot of still photos. iMovie '09 makes it easier to find the photos you shot at the same time.


Select an event in the Event Library and then click the Photos button on the toolbar. At the bottom of the Photos pane is a new Show Photos popup menu; click its checkbox and then choose a time frame (within Event date range, or within 1 day/week/month of Event).




Adjust the Opacity of a Cutaway -- With the advanced tools enabled (an option in iMovie's preferences that unlock a lot of features), you can drag one clip on top of another and create a cutaway - the new clip is superimposed on top of the existing one. When you bring up the Inspector on the cutaway clip, a new Opacity slider lets you adjust how transparent the clip appears.





 
Copyright © 2009 Jeff Carlson. TidBITS is copyright © 2009 TidBITS Publishing Inc. If you're reading this article on a Web site other than TidBITS.com, please let us know, because if it was republished without attribution, by a commercial site, or in modified form, it violates our Creative Commons License.

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from google
february 2009
Glowing Cities Under a Nighttime Sky
This is an amazing timelapse video by James Leng.

On my night time flight back to SF from Amsterdam, I noticed that the lights from cities were making the clouds glow. Really spectacular and ethereal - it was really seeing the impact of urban environments from a different perspective. Each glow or squiggle represents one town or city!

Luckily the flight was half empty, so I was able to set up a impromptu mound made up of my bags, pillows, and blankets for my camera to sit on.

We were around the midwest at the beginning of the clip, and there were fewer cities once we hit the rockies. the bridge at the end is the san mateo bridge.

Technique: 1600iso; beginning - 1 (30sec) exposure / 45secs, end - 1 (4sec) exposure / 10 secs; total elapsed time: around 3 hours?

found at kottke
from google
february 2009
The Web Design Sketchbook
The Web Design Sketchbook by Hyper Interaktiv has 45 pages with a normal browser window and 15 with web ad formats. A must have for every …

found at paranaiv
from google
february 2009
An Opportunity and Obligation
I shot my first gig as a professional photographer in 2005. It’s pretty hard at this point to believe that it’s been four years. In some ways, it seems like just a moment ago. After all, ten years ago I was at Sun working to get Tomcat and Ant released to the Apache Software Foundation. Twenty years ago, I was blundering through my first year of architecture school. In other ways, however, I look back at all that that’s happened since that first gig and I’m amazed it’s only been four years.

Starting a second career takes time and dedication. It takes years to get to the point where you’re not looking over your shoulder and wondering if you might have to fall back again on other skills you have. In the best of times, it takes patience and work. Lots of hard work. Of course, it’s not the best of times. The economic environment of the last year or so—especially the last few months—has kept that worry front and center. I’ve had some gigs cancelled and others scaled back. On top of that, there have been a few things in my personal and family life that haven’t gone so well. Frankly, it’s been kind of a sucky time. And, it seems that there’s more suck to come on a variety of fronts.

Life has to go on, however. The best opportunities show themselves when you least expect it. And they can come from unexpected directions. In my case, one came via an email I read on my iPhone last Monday.

To fully explain, I need to tell you a story from a few years back. After finishing up my first full year of shooting events for O’Reilly Media, I made a short list of things I’d love to do as a professional photographer. Call them goals. Call them wishes. Whatever. I’ve got a short list. And the number one event on that short list was a unique conference that was held every year in Monterrey called TED. If you don’t know about TED, go check out their website and watch some of the videos. I’ve been incredibly lucky to be able to shoot some of the premier technology events from Web 2.0 Summit to Apple’s WWDC. But TED is it’s own kind of event. Special and unique.

That email I got on Monday? It was from the Executive Producer of TED asking if I’d be available to shoot as a second shooter for the event. Asa Mathat will be the lead photographer, but a single photographer can’t be everywhere at once at a big event. So, would I’d be willing to come and add a second viewpoint?

When I read the email, I was speechless for a while. Maybe an hour. I was barely able to order a cappuccino at the cafe I stopped at after reading the email. It’s so incredibly awesome when a wish comes true. Of course, I accepted. Next week, I’ll be in Long Beach at TED2009 with my camera in my hand. The job might be as just a second shooter. But that’s just fine by me. I’ll be there with the job to make images.

Needless to say, this is a big opportunity. It’s an honor, obviously, but there’s more to it. Unlike getting an award, you can’t just accept an opportunity, smile, and stand there. No, it’s not like that at all. Opportunities lead to other opportunities. Doing a great job at the first O’Reilly conference I shot led to another and another. And doing those well led to me working with other companies like Apple. Therefore, I feel a very real obligation to opportunity, and this one is no different. You have to go out and meet the opportunity head on. In the parlance of sport, you have to go out on the field and give it all you have. Leave it all on the field.

I plan on doing just that. Moreover, I suddenly feel a whole lot better about this year. After all, I might still have to fall back on some of the other skills I have to make it through. There may still be some suck to come. But, there is still joy to be had. There is still opportunity to do good work. And the chance to make some good photographs. Really, what more could one want?

Update 1/31: Thanks all for the kind comments! I really appreciate them!
from google
january 2009
Light Bulb
light bulb is a levitating yet powered lightbulb. It will float stably in midair and remain on for years without any physical contact, charging, or batteries. Ironically, with the levitation and wireless power circuitry both on, this entire package still consumes less than half the power of an incandescent bulb. This is not a trick or a photoshop manipulation. The bulb and the casing contain hidden circuitry that uses electromagnetic feedback to levitate the bulb roughly 2.5″ from the nearest object, and uses coupled resonant wireless power transfer to beam power from the housing into the bulb itself.
from google
january 2009
Apple TV sales rise 300%, will see continued investment
Purportedly left for dead and mocked by pundits, Apple TV has actually turned into a productive hobby for Apple that will likely see continued development in the future, with sales up 300% over the year ago quarter according to company COO Tim Cook.
from google
january 2009
“By installing Java, you will be able to experience the power of Java”
Just because there’s room on the dialog box, doesn’t mean you have to put something there. The Java installer starts off with a dialog box that manages to repeat the word Java six times without really telling you what it is, just that it’s “everywhere.”

People don’t like to read. If you can’t think of anything to say, maybe you should just shut up. This whole damn dialog could read

Java Loves You—Please Wait

without any loss in functionality.

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.
from google
january 2009
Pandora 2.0 for iPhone
Pandora's app was one of the iPhone's best of 2008 on iTunes, and while I've only recently started using it, I have to agree: even over EDGE, it's a great way to get some music you've never heard on the iPhone.
from google
january 2009
UI Programming Models
I found this excellent post Toward a better UI programing model with pointers to various UI programming models.

Web designers are forced to think within the constraints of the web browser when it comes to user interaction design.

The post above discusses more general approaches to user interaction design and not just within the context of the web browser.

Since I am mostly involved in web UI interactions these days this post was very refreshing as it brought a new perspective to me.

While developing the UI for a web app recently I realized that the web design world is in the search-discovery cycle of  “patterns” that guide user interactions.  Patterns in user interactions has the dual benefit of helping both designers and users. Much like the “guidelines” on Windows ( Windows User Experience Interaction Guidelines ) or Mac (Apple Human Interface Guidelines ) development platforms that help Windows or Mac application developers respectively while standardizing the user interactions of the applications developed on those platforms. These guidelines ensure strict quality, improves user experience and makes the life of designers easier.

There are plenty of resources that discuss “web ui interaction patterns” .

Designing Interfaces is a good resource if you are designing web user interactions. Rob Adams one of the core developers of Adobe’s Flex  has an excellent set of introductory articles which not only apply to designing user interfaces using Adobe’s Flex but applies to user interface design in general. I especially liked the Structuring your Application part.

Everyone loves the web, even if there are a few frustrations that we still have to overcome

Happy Surfing !
from google
january 2009
Report: Apple’s iTunes Store to go DRM-free, offer labels more flexible pricing
Apple has cut deals that will finally enable iTunes to offer songs free of copy protection software...
from google
january 2009
Top Emailers 2008, etc
As an update to last year’s post:

Toni Schneider — 1,052
Maya Desai — 826
Mom — 659
Raanan Bar-Cohen — 452
Donncha O Caoimh — 424
Barry Abrahamson — 386
Mark Riley — 222
Jane Wells — 218
Ryan Boren — 200
Andrew Ozz — 197
Matt Thomas — 193
Liz Danzico — 148
Mike Hirshland — 144
Heather Rasley — 139
Joseph Scott — 129

I’ve expanded the list to 15. A lot of the same folks at the very top, but new faces in Liz and Jane from 2.5 and 2.7 usability cycles. Also three people on the list have changed their domain in the past year, just like I did. It must have been a year for that.

Also for fun here are some yearly posting stats courtesy of Alex’s queries:

Posts
Avg. Words
Total Words
Avg. Comments
Total Comments

2002
360
139
50,190
1
390

2003
429
168
72,359
3
1,287

2004
990
54
54,257
6
6,236

2005
624
48
30,090
9
5,963

2006
313
70
22,010
11
3,503

2007
334
60
20,267
17
5,919

2008
302
50
15,206
21
6,493

As you can see I’m doing fewer posts with fewer words than ever, but getting more comments. At this rate I’ll be down to 40 words per post next year. Yay brevity.

Working on collating some travel / WordCamp stats.
from google
january 2009
Mint: A Fresh Look at your Site
Just setup Mint () on my site to see if it really is that much better than other packages.
from twitter
january 2009
Apple files for patent on winter-friendly iPhone gloves
Addressing the complaints of nearly every iPhone owner in a northern climate, Apple has filed for a patent that would cover a means of using a multi-touch device with gloves.
from google
january 2009
Getting Real and Design
I’ve only known one method for approaching a Design project. There are many variations out there, but it can essentially be broken down into 4 steps: Discover, Plan, Design/Develop, and Deploy. It didn’t matter where I worked—agency or internal design department—these were the steps, and I didn’t question them.

Then 37signals published Getting Real, and I wondered if this might be a better way of approaching a project. I’d like to share with you a few stories from past Design projects while reflecting on how Getting Real would have helped. I’ll also share some insight into how the process here at 37signals works.

More...
from google
december 2008
Terminal Tip: Enable half-star ratings in iTunes
Filed under: Terminal Tips Do you like giving ratings to songs in iTunes? If so, then you've probably noticed that you are only able to rate songs on a full-star basis, not enough granularity for some music fans... there's a longstanding AppleScript hack to enable half-stars, but now there's an easier way around this issue. Macworld's Rob Griffiths found a work around, involving a simple Terminal tip to enable half-star ratings. To enable half-star ratings, close iTunes, and open Terminal (/Applications/Utilities). Once you have Terminal opened, type the following command and press enter: defaults write com.apple.iTunes allow-half-stars -bool TRUE When you reopen iTunes and rate a song, you will be able to give half-stars. That simple. If you wish to make things normal again, open Terminal and type the same command, replacing "TRUE" with "FALSE."TUAWTerminal Tip: Enable half-star ratings in iTunes originally appeared on The Unofficial Apple Weblog (TUAW) on Wed, 31 Dec 2008 11:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds. Read | Permalink | Email this | Comments
from google
december 2008
Beyond Thinking Different to Doing Different
Electronically reprinting Bruce Mau's Incomplete Manifesto for Change has become a New Year's tradition on Brand Autopsy. Enjoy all over again ...

Originally posted on December 31, 2004

Bruce Mau, a designer, thinker, articulator, and massive change provocateur, has a lot of ideas on a lot of things. His Incomplete Manifesto for Change is a list, an incomplete one at that, of 43 ideas to get you beyond thinking differently but doing differently. As 2008 turns to 2009, the message of doing differently is one we should all heed. Enjoy.

An Incomplete Manifesto for Growth Author: Bruce Mau (1998)

1. Allow events to change you. You have to be willing to grow. Growth is different from something that happens to you. You produce it. You live it. The prerequisites for growth: the openness to experience events and the willingness to be changed by them.

2. Forget about good. Good is a known quantity. Good is what we all agree on. Growth is not necessarily good. Growth is an exploration of unlit recesses that may or may not yield to our research. As long as you stick to good you’ll never have real growth.

3. Process is more important than outcome. When the outcome drives the process we will only ever go to where we’ve already been. If process drives outcome we may not know where we’re going, but we will know we want to be there.

4. Love your experiments (as you would an ugly child). Joy is the engine of growth. Exploit the liberty in casting your work as beautiful experiments, iterations, attempts, trials, and errors. Take the long view and allow yourself the fun of failure every day.

5. Go deep. The deeper you go the more likely you will discover something of value.

6. Capture accidents. The wrong answer is the right answer in search of a different question. Collect wrong answers as part of the process. Ask different questions.

7. Study. A studio is a place of study. Use the necessity of production as an excuse to study. Everyone will benefit.

8. Drift. Allow yourself to wander aimlessly. Explore adjacencies. Lack judgment. Postpone criticism.

9. Begin anywhere. John Cage tells us that not knowing where to begin is a common form of paralysis. His advice: begin anywhere.

10. Everyone is a leader. Growth happens. Whenever it does, allow it to emerge. Learn to follow when it makes sense. Let anyone lead.

11. Harvest ideas. Edit applications. Ideas need a dynamic, fluid, generous environment to sustain life. Applications, on the other hand, benefit from critical rigor. Produce a high ratio of ideas to applications.

12. Keep moving. The market and its operations have a tendency to reinforce success. Resist it. Allow failure and migration to be part of your practice.

13. Slow down. Desynchronize from standard time frames and surprising opportunities may present themselves.

14. Don’t be cool. Cool is conservative fear dressed in black. Free yourself from limits of this sort.

15. Ask stupid questions. Growth is fueled by desire and innocence. Assess the answer, not the question. Imagine learning throughout your life at the rate of an infant.

16. Collaborate. The space between people working together is filled with conflict, friction, strife, exhilaration, delight, and vast creative potential.

17. ——————————. Intentionally left blank. Allow space for the ideas you haven’t had yet, and for the ideas of others.

18. Stay up late. Strange things happen when you’ve gone too far, been up too long, worked too hard, and you’re separated from the rest of the world.

19. Work the metaphor. Every object has the capacity to stand for something other than what is apparent. Work on what it stands for.

20. Be careful to take risks. Time is genetic. Today is the child of yesterday and the parent of tomorrow. The work you produce today will create your future.

21. Repeat yourself. If you like it, do it again. If you don’t like it, do it again.

22. Make your own tools. Hybridize your tools in order to build unique things. Even simple tools that are your own can yield entirely new avenues of exploration. Remember, tools amplify our capacities, so even a small tool can make a big difference.

23. Stand on someone’s shoulders. You can travel farther carried on the accomplishments of those who came before you. And the view is so much better.

24. Avoid software. The problem with software is that everyone has it.

25. Don’t clean your desk. You might find something in the morning that you can’t see tonight.

26. Don’t enter awards competitions. Just don’t. It’s not good for you.

27. Read only left-hand pages. Marshall McLuhan did this. By decreasing the amount of information, we leave room for what he called our “noodle.”

28. Make new words. Expand the lexicon. The new conditions demand a new way of thinking. The thinking demands new forms of expression. The expression generates new conditions.

29. Think with your mind. Forget technology. Creativity is not device-dependent.

30. Organization = Liberty. Real innovation in design, or any other field, happens in context. That context is usually some form of cooperatively managed enterprise. Frank Gehry, for instance, is only able to realize Bilbao because his studio can deliver it on budget. The myth of a split between “creatives” and “suits” is what Leonard Cohen calls a 'charming artifact of the past.'

31. Don’t borrow money. Once again, Frank Gehry’s advice. By maintaining financial control, we maintain creative control. It’s not exactly rocket science, but it’s surprising how hard it is to maintain this discipline, and how many have failed.

32. Listen carefully. Every collaborator who enters our orbit brings with him or her a world more strange and complex than any we could ever hope to imagine. By listening to the details and the subtlety of their needs, desires, or ambitions, we fold their world onto our own. Neither party will ever be the same.

33. Take field trips. The bandwidth of the world is greater than that of your TV set, or the Internet, or even a totally immersive, interactive, dynamically rendered, object-oriented, real-time, computer graphic–simulated environment.

34. Make mistakes faster. This isn’t my idea — I borrowed it. I think it belongs to Andy Grove.

35. Imitate. Don’t be shy about it. Try to get as close as you can. You’ll never get all the way, and the separation might be truly remarkable. We have only to look to Richard Hamilton and his version of Marcel Duchamp’s large glass to see how rich, discredited, and underused imitation is as a technique.

36. Scat. When you forget the words, do what Ella did: make up something else … but not words.

37. Break it, stretch it, bend it, crush it, crack it, fold it.

38. Explore the other edge. Great liberty exists when we avoid trying to run with the technological pack. We can’t find the leading edge because it’s trampled underfoot. Try using old-tech equipment made obsolete by an economic cycle but still rich with potential.

39. Coffee breaks, cab rides, green rooms. Real growth often happens outside of where we intend it to, in the interstitial spaces — what Dr. Seuss calls “the waiting place.” Hans Ulrich Obrist once organized a science and art conference with all of the infrastructure of a conference — the parties, chats, lunches, airport arrivals — but with no actual conference. Apparently it was hugely successful and spawned many ongoing collaborations.

40. Avoid fields. Jump fences. Disciplinary boundaries and regulatory regimes are attempts to control the wilding of creative life. They are often understandable efforts to order what are manifold, complex, evolutionary processes. Our job is to jump the fences and cross the fields.

41. Laugh. People visiting the studio often comment on how much we laugh. Since I’ve become aware of this, I use it as a barometer of how comfortably we are expressing ourselves.

42. Remember. Growth is only possible as a product of history. Without memory, innovation is merely novelty. History gives growth a direction. But a memory is never perfect. Every memory is a degraded or composite image of a previous moment or event. That’s what makes us aware of its quality as a past and not a present. It means that every memory is new, a partial construct different from its source, and, as such, a potential for growth itself.

43. Power to the people. Play can only happen when people feel they have control over their lives. We can’t be free agents if we’re not free.
from google
december 2008
Showing the difference between a 19" and 22" suitcase
What size rolling luggage to buy? Shopping at Amazon, it feels like a shot in the dark.



Lots of closeups of handles and wheels, but what’s the difference between a 19” or 22” bag? There’s no real guidance.

This is the kind of situation where a site that focuses on a specific niche can really shine.


Luggage Online offers a size chart (and Carry-On Luggage Regulations for each airline too).


eBags also offers a Rolling Luggage Size Guide.

Sometimes, a little context makes all the difference.
from google
december 2008
Big Guitar by Greg Merkle - Download Big Guitar on iTunes
My friend got his first album on iTunes -- it's really great. Get it here (iTMS link)
from twitter
december 2008
Nudge
I just finished reading Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness by Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein.

I like it for two reasons: first, it feels to me like a direct application of computer user interface design to life, and second, I think it has a lot of applications for ASU’s Web design and the ways that Web design can influence people to take advantage of what the University offers.

Simply put, the big idea in Nudge is the same as something my favorite band Rush used to say, if you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice. It’s just that the choice you make is one that someone else has provided for you.

For example, road lines may be painted closer together as drivers approach a dangerous curve or potential safety hazard; by arranging the lines closer together, the driver is given the illusion that he/she is driving at a faster speed than he/she actually is, nudging the driver to hit the brakes and slow down.  Another example Thaler and Sunstein give is cafeteria design. By placing healthier food choices, like the salad bar, at the front of a cafeteria, a school might try to nudge students into making smarter diet choices. This idea is really familiar to user interface designers. Every time a dialog box pops up with OK and Cancel, one of them is highlighted, making it the default choice. Most of us have gotten used to clicking right past all of the Continues and OKs and Accepts that stand between us and getting our work done. In the process, we agree to terms and conditions, install useful pieces of software, and in general make all sorts of tacit and uninformed decisions that user interface designers have in essence made for us. It’s a lot of power to give over to someone else, but there’s no loss of freedom. You’re free to be as careful as you want and make every decision exactly the way you’d like. It’s just that most of us have long ago reached a decision saturation point and so tend to reserve our careful judgment for fewer and fewer things.

Which brings us to University design and the Web. By carefully crafting default positions, we could achieve all sorts of goals that might improve student success and retention. Say a University believed that having students stay in residence halls on campus was a major factor in improving student success and graduation rates. According to the Nudge philosophy, an effective way to dramatically increase the number of students choosing to stay on campus would be to, by default, assign them to a residence hall immediately upon acceptance of their application. There’s no loss of freedom since a student could easily change their residence hall assignment or even apply for an exception to live off-campus. But every student would start from a different place–by default they’re on campus instead of having to opt in to campus living. So those who don’t want to spend their decision energy on where they live in college will end up living on campus instead of the other way around.

Feels a little like Big Brother but given that everyone has a choice, I think it’s high time it fall into our Web design as a way of helping students and the University achieve its goals.

It’s an interesting read either way, with some serious implications for public policy.
from google
december 2008
The Gift Of Software
The holidays are upon us, and if you’re anything like me, you’ve put off buying gifts for your friends and loved ones until almost the last minute!

I hope you won’t overlook the possibility of sending the gift of software this year. Thanks to a new feature in the Red Sweater Store, it’s finally easy to order any of our applications as a gift license for somebody you care about.

Just make your purchase as usual, but when you get to the checkout page, fill in the lucky recipient’s name:

The license information will be sent to you by email, so you can package it up in your own charming way, before passing it on.

One of the “problems” of gifting software these days is that most of the best applications are sold as purely electronic downloads from the web. I have to admit that the old-fashioned boxes made it easier to stick something under the tree, but with a little creativity you can give software gifts that are thoughtful and also have an element of “hand assembled” uniqueness to them.

For the puzzle lover in your life, may I suggest Black Ink bundled with a crossword solving dictionary, and a nice pen?

Know somebody who has talked about blogging for years, but never manages to get started? Perhaps a copy of MarsEdit, a copy of Strunk & White, and some encouraging words will be just the nudge they need.

These ideas are the tip of the iceberg. Perhaps the person on your gift list isn’t suited to my products at all. There are hundreds of independent Mac developers whose excellent products could bring a smile to your loved ones this holiday season. Take a look around!

Enjoy the holiday season, and I hope you all have a very happy new year!
from google
december 2008
Perian 1.1.3 now available, provides lots of fixes
Filed under: Multimedia, Software, Freeware
On Monday, Perian 1.1.3 was released. Perian is a Preference Pane that provides QuickTime with a ton of extra codec support, including: AVI, DivX, and FLV. Version 1.1.3 updates the following aspects of Perian:

Enabled Indeo 2/3 decodecs
Added external idx/sub (VobSub) support
Added support for H.264 and H.263 in FLV containers
Apple's decoder now handles Baseline/Main Profile H.264
Fix inconsistent importing for multi-channel audio
Reduced memory usage for packed streams
Added sanity checks on all preferences
Enabled hack to show subtitles in Front Row
Fixed negative values in SSA \frz tag
Fixed VSFilter bug-compatibility for \an

You can learn more about Perian, and download the new update, by visiting the Perian.org website.TUAWPerian 1.1.3 now available, provides lots of fixes originally appeared on The Unofficial Apple Weblog (TUAW) on Tue, 16 Dec 2008 16:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.
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from google
december 2008
Record a multi-participant podcast with GarageBand
Filed under: Multimedia, Podcasting
A few months ago, I started recording a podcast with some friends. At that time, our process was to gather everyone into one Skype call and record the session with WireTap Studio. That worked reasonably well, but there were a few problems.The quality of the end result was dependent on everyone's Skype connection. Throw in a bad rainstorm, a large download or an iffy wi-fi connection and quality suffered. The other issue was people talking over each other. Even the most disciplined podcasters do it occasionally. Since the raw audio was a single track, editing the overtalking out of the final show was difficult, if not impossible.A few episodes into it, we read Dan Benjamin's tips on recording a podcast with participants in multiple locations. He and John Gruber use a time-tested method called a "double-ender" when recording The Talk Show. As they talk via Skype, John and Dan record their own audio locally, and those two files are edited together as separate tracks. We've adopted a similar method using GarageBand, and it's been working wonderfully. Read on for details on our setup.Continue reading Record a multi-participant podcast with GarageBand
TUAWRecord a multi-participant podcast with GarageBand originally appeared on The Unofficial Apple Weblog (TUAW) on Tue, 16 Dec 2008 09:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.
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from google
december 2008
10.5.6 here snappieness ensues
10.5.6 is out, go grab it from Software update (377mb here!) or via the standalone installer.
december 2008
Chronochrome: [Almost] Resistor Color Code Time.
Pictured at left is the “Chronochrome“.

Cool idea; use colors to represent numbers, thus creating a neat colorful clock. Like binary clocks (of which I built one of these as one of my first kits ages ago), it is a pleasant bit of blinky art to the uninformed and those given the “secret” can tell the time, further baffling the uninformed.

At first, the pink band made me think the designers were dumb. That instead of going with the standard resistor color codes, they invented some random color mapping.

Not the case.

It is the standard set of colors, just with pink substituted for brown.

I would rather have the brown, but would imagine it is exceedingly difficult to create a “brown” light that doesn’t look black or otherwise odd.

Of course, I full expect to see an AVR based RGB LED implementation of this within about 3 days…
from google
december 2008
MacBook Pro tip: resetting SMC saved my day
Filed under: Hardware, Troubleshooting, Macbook Pro, MacBook, MacBook Air
Here's a timely tip if the battery on your Intel based Mac laptop seems to be operating at less than optimum performance.The other day I took my MacBook Pro off the charger and was surprised to see only an hour and 40 minutes of run time, even though the battery was fully charged and only a few months old. It didn't seem right, and I went immediately on the web to make a Genius appointment at our local Apple Store. Then I did a little digging around Apple support documents and found one that seemed promising. Was it possible I needed to reset the SMC (System Management Controller)? Well, dutifully following the instructions, I shut down my laptop, removed the power cord and unhooked the battery. I held down the power button for 5 seconds, put the power cord back on, and inserted the battery. Surprise surprise, my computer started up and showed about 4 hours of time left on the battery when I went back off the charger. Better still, it really did hold up for that amount of time, so things were back to normal. I canceled my Genius appointment and spent the day congratulating myself for finding the tip, and getting my battery back in shape.The SMC is a chip on the motherboard that can lose its way, and in my case it needed a little kick to get itself sorted out. This chip has been the focus of some controversy in the past, and Apple has updated the SMC firmware repeatedly. Anyway, this fix worked for me -- might work for you. Here's the link to the Apple Support Document. There are instructions for the Intel MacBooks, MacBook Pros, and the new MacBook Air. Be there or be square.TUAWMacBook Pro tip: resetting SMC saved my day originally appeared on The Unofficial Apple Weblog (TUAW) on Sun, 14 Dec 2008 13:45:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.
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from google
december 2008
Feedback on New Screenshots
Yeah, I think. Not good for Twitter response. I posted in GetSatisfaction.
from twitter
december 2008
Awesome Battery Charger (with Total Crap UI)
We have an absolutely ridiculous number of devices in the house that eat AA batteries (and a handful of AAA batteries). LED flashlights. Wii Controllers. The Canon macro ring flash. Various remotes. Toys. Etc…

As a result, we use a lot of batteries. Thus, I decided that I would pick up a bulk pack of rechargeable AA batteries and find a decent charger to go with.

After a bunch of research, every sign indicated that the La Crosse Technology BC-900 AlphaPower Battery Charger
(pictured at left) was the best of the bunch.

And it is. Which is sad, in a way.

The charger does a brilliant job of testing, refreshing and generally charging AA and AAA cells. It has multiple modes, including the ability to select the current level used to charge batteries (high current == fast charge, but lessens battery life) and does a great job of indicating the overall health of the cell.

The user interface, though, absolutely sucks. Horribly. It has four displays — one for each cell slot — and the contents are confusing at best. Definitely a device for which reading the manual at least twice and then looking up various online resources is required.

Hell, the damned display shows “null” for any slot without a battery in it. If that isn’t an indication of total lack of UI design, I don’t know what is!

But, the damned thing works. Really really well.

In fact, the first time I used it, I set it to refresh a set of batteries that I had been charging via some relatively cheap combo-pack charger. It basically returned them to about double the capacity that I was seeing.

Word of warning: Some really cheap battery chargers are, in fact, dangerous. If they are simply constant current charging sources, they can do damage to the cells unless you pull the cells right when they are done charging (too soon — incomplete charge, too late — bad for the cells). Seriously — at least invest in a “smart” charger that backs off when the cells are done!

Beyond the obvious green rah-rah-love-the-earth win of moving to rechargeable batteries, there are some additional benefits that I hadn’t entirely considered but am now happy to enjoy.

Most obviously, you don’t have to remember to buy batteries. Myself and everyone I know invariably has a remote or two that has no batteries in it. Why? Because the batteries were scavenged for use in a device that was higher in the pecking order whose cells have gone dead. With rechargeable batteries, though, the dead cells can be revived easily enough.

With ultra-low self discharge cells, you sacrifice a bit of overall capacity, but the cells hold their charge for much, much longer. Thus, the cells “stored” in the rarely used remote will still have a charge after many months.

Secondly — and this surprised me — rechargeable batteries seem to perform much better for longer in high current demand situations. For example, my ring flash recycles back to ready much faster across more cycles than it did with disposable AA batteries.

All in all, the move to rechargeables has been good in our house. Certainly, given the battery eating nature of the Canon flash and with several long trips where an iPod or iPhone needed power, the change has likely already paid for itself. Certainly close.
from google
december 2008
MintyBoost
At left is a “Minty Boost v2.0” that Roger and I put together over the course of a couple of evenings.

The Minty Boost is a tiny power supply designed to provide power or to charge most USB devices.

Including the iPhone 3G, which really wants somewhere around 500ma to charge. Normally, to achieve that level of current, the devices have to negotiate with each other.

The MintyBoost is a “dumb” USB power source in that it mimics the wall wart (very very tiny wall wart) style USB power supplies, providing enough bias on the data lines to make the device pull current without going into “negotiation” mode.

As a power supply, the Minty Boost is both smart and efficient. It is built around Linear Technology’s LT1302 Micropower High Output Current Step-Up Adjustable and Fixed 5V DC/DC Converter.

Combining the chip with a handful of discrete components creates a power supply that produces a steady 5 volts @ 600 milliamps. It is designed for use with 2x 1.5 volt cells and will continue to operate even until the combined voltage output by the in-series cells drops to 2 volts. When not in use, the chip draws extremely little current.

I’m using GreenBatteries.COM’s Ultra Low Self Discharge cells. These rechargeable batteries are specifically designed not to self-drain over time when not in use. Perfect for remote controls and camera flashes that don’t get used all the time (or are used rather intermittently when you think about it).

I’ll likely pick up a set of the high-capacity non-ULSD rechargeables.

The whole assembly is hot-glued into an Altoids tin (with a bit of electrical tape as insulation). Very convenient packaging and it is still quite easy to pop out the batteries.

It works quite well, though differently than other battery packs. Namely, the device actually charges the iPhone’s battery. That is, it isn’t an extender. As such, the iPhone will happily suck whatever current — 600ma, in this case — out of the device until either the iPhone’s battery is charged or the charger is drained.

The one caveat is that the device can actually drain the iPhone’s battery as the current falls. You need to keep an eye on things and pull the charger’s plug once the iPhone’s battery icon changes from “charging” to “powered”.

A small bit of inconvenience given that the device is around $20 and I don’t ever have to click “OK” on the “external device may be incompatible with your phone” dialog.

You can buy the kits from Lady Ada’s store. It is fairly straightforward to solder together, too.

Alternatively, you can try to grab the parts yourself. I had a hard time finding the LT1302 power supply chip at a reasonable price (including shipping). Turned out to be cheaper just to buy the kits.
from google
december 2008
Goodbye ZDNet
As of today, I have to say goodbye to ZDNet. After just over two years of writing this blog, I'm sad to say this is my last post here on the Social Web. I've been 'let go' as they say. Or perhaps more accurately, this blog is no more, making way for others. It's been an honor to write for ZDNet and, most of all, you my loyal and thoughtful readers.
from google
december 2008
Top 10 Records Of 2008
One of the big changes on this blog in the past year is the departure of music posts. I moved my music posts to my tumblog in late 2007, where I post a new song everyday. You can experience them here by clicking on the "radio" link in the upper nav links or by clicking on the black banner at the bottom of the page. I haven't stopped blogging about music, in fact I am doing it more than ever, but I have changed the way I do it. I like it better and I hope you do too.

Every year since I started this blog, I have listed my top 10 records of the year on this blog and this year will be no different. But I am not going to generate a new post every day for ten days like I've done in the past. I've actually been doing that on my tumblog for the past two weeks and if you are an active reader of that or an active listener of fredwilson.fm, then you already know what is on the list.

This year, I'll do a single blog post with all the selections in it. So without further ado, here's the list:

1) The Stand-Ins - Okkervil River. This record is the back end of a two part effort that started with The Stage Names last year. Many people feel they should have released them both as a double album. You might ask,"why is this your number one record this year and yet The Stage Names didn't even make your list last year?" Well like Kings Of Leon last year, this band snuck up on me and I got into them a bit late. I like both records equally but this is a 2008 release and so it gets on the list. Okkervil is the band of the year for me and this is the record of the year even though my personal favorite of everything they've done is the Golden Opportunities Mixtape that they've never really even released commercially. If you don't get this band, you are like I was until this year, you just aren't trying hard enough.

2). Oracular Spectacular - MGMT. From the opening of Time To Pretend to the line 15 seconds later about going to paris shooting heroin and fucking stars, you know this is going to be a fun ride. And it is. This record got more play in our family than any other this year. I am not sure who loves it most, but its likely to be my younger daughter or my son. Its not a family record by any means, its not even age appropriate for my son. But that has never gotten in the way of appreciating art in our family and this record is art, created by two young kids just out of Wesleyan. Listening to it makes me feel their age and that's a good thing.

3) Here's To Being Here - Jason Collett. The first of two solo projects on this list. Jason's from Broken Social Scene, a personal favorite of mine, but honestly this record is better than anything they've ever done. Jason's put out something that sounds like what a late 60s/early 70s folk-rock record would sound like if it was made today. I listened to this record non-stop this summer. Its not in heavy rotation anymore but when I do put it back on, I can sing along to the entire record and I probably always will be able to do that. Its a fun, easy, rocking record and its great.

4) For Emma Forever Ago - Bon Iver. If Jason Collett got me through the summer, Bon Iver got me through last winter. This record was made in a cabin in the northern woods the previous winter and it sounds like its still coming from there. Its getting cold again in NYC, and its time to make a hot cup of tea, curl up on the couch under a blanket, and put Bon Iver on.

5) We Brave Bee Stings And All - Thao. I discovered Thao as I was coming out of my Bon Iver phase and she literally pulled me out of it. Thao is a young asian woman with a wonderful voice and light quirky songs. The Gotham Gal bought into Thao bigtime and this record was a constant in our family room/kitchen for most of this year.

6) Little Joy - Little Joy. The second solo project on my top 10 list. This comes from Fabrizio Moretti, the Strokes' drummer. I haven't really loved anything the Strokes have done since their first record but I sure do love this record. It is a little joy. And its not as much a solo project as a collaboration between three friends. I can imagine them sitting around the porch playing these songs and deciding to record them. It reminds me a lot of Ry Cooder's Paradise and Lunch and David Lindley's El Rayo Ex, two other little joys of mine

7) Vampire Weekend - Vampire Weekend. I remember late last year my oldest daughter played me a few Vampire Weekend tracks she'd found on hype machine. She said 'this is my new favorite band'. And so it was and it became our family's favorite band for a good while. One of the musical highlights of the year was going with the whole family to see Vampire Weekend at an outdoor music festival in Paris this summer. We knew all the songs and could sing all the words. So did all the parisian kids too

8) Only By The Night - Kings Of Leon. Another musical highlight from our time in Paris was the KOL show we saw at Le Zenith. MGMT opened but I got everyone on the wrong metro train and we ended up only seeing KOL. Oh well. I think I've finally lived that down. They were playing a few songs from the new record this summer but I didn't hear it in its full incarnation until this fall. This record has been trashed by Pitchfork and others as a sellout. Its clearly an attempt to reach a mainstream audience and inherit U2's throne at the top of anthem rock. I don't like it as much as Aha Shake Heartbreak but then I don't think any record made this decade beats Aha Shake Heartbreak. Only By The Night features the best singing of Caleb's short but brilliant career and the songs are catchy and good. It may be mainstream but I still like it better than most of what I heard this year.

9) Volume One - She and Him. M Ward is one of my favorite musicians working today. When I heard he'd teamed up with the beautiful and sweet Zoe Deschanel to make a record, I was curious and a bit baffled. But the result came out great. The gruff Matt and the sweet Zoe made a perfect pairing and like Jack White did a few years back with Loretta Lynn, M Ward made sure the songs came out great. This one's a real gem.

10) Med Sud I Eyrum Vid Spilum Endalaust - Sigur Ros. This was a late bloomer for me. The record came out late summer but I didn't get into it until the past month. Sigur Ros is mood music and I guess I needed to get into the right mood. I did and this record delivered more Sigur Ros wonderfulness. If you like them, get this record.

There are six other records that I seriously considered for the top 10. So here's the Honorable Mention list:

Conor Oberst – Conor Oberst. Really tough call. Deserved to be on the top 10 list but couldn't figure out who to cut to get it there.

Fleet Foxes – Fleet Foxes Will absolutely be on Gotham Gal's list. It would easily be on our "most listens in our family room/kitchen list". Great record.

Konk - Kooks. My son's favorite band. I am very partial to them too. This one has great songs but isn't as good as their debut. The lead singer Luke is one of the most talented songwriters out there right now.

Consolers Of The Lonely - Raconteurs. Three or four great songs. If it were more consistent, it would have made top 10. Jack White is a guitar god.

Hometowns - The Rural Alberta Advantage. This one was suggested to me by a fellow tumbler who saw I was putting a top 10 list together last week. I bought the record that very day (on emusic, not on Amazon yet) and have been obsessed with it since. If I had more time with it, it might have made the list. My oldest daughter describes them as Decemberists meet Neutral Milk Hotel. I describe them as awesome.

That's it. I hope you like the list and I also hope that you click on those links and buy some music. And if you'd like to listen first, go to fredwilson.fm. I've been posting nothing but songs from these records for the past week and a half and you can listen to this list there. I just did while I was posting this and it's great.
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december 2008
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