Scripting News: New iPhone observations.
Scripting News: Facebook is not for news, yet.
Scripting News: It wouldn't kill Twitter to do text.
Today's background image is a photo taken with the new iPhone 6.
Flickr: Hudson River as summer fades.
Scripting News: Why we give it up for Apple.
Video: Riding south on the Hudson path.
Yesterday I finally got so fed up with breakage in the clipboard and debugger in Chrome that I went public with that frustration. I guess it was possible that it was "just me," but it was confirmed by other users. These crucial features, one for programmers, and the other for everyone, are broken. Sometimes you can clear the problem by restarting the browser. Other times, even that won't do.
There apparently is a workaround for the debugger problem.
Remember when Chrome launched? We were told it was an inherently more reliable design because each tab was in its own thread, so you could have one thread go down and it wouldn't take the browser with it (an infuriating feature of Safari on iOS, btw, it's the crashiest browser I've ever used).
As with many products, they devoted the resources to make it work when they wanted to take the market. Their best programmers, with lots of focus -- in this case, Firefox, I guess. They win, and then we, the users, deal with the same old breakage, and no one home to fix it. (Firefox was no better, their disregard for stability was the reason I split.)
Computer users tend to think crashes are their fault, they're doing something wrong, so they live with broken tools. It would be great if the people at Google had enough pride to keep their browser functioning anyway. I can't imagine they accept that features like the clipboard and debugger are broken. Are they broken in the versions they use?
Also it has been suggested that I switch to Canary, the "bleeding-edge" (Google's term) version of Chrome. That seems like very bad advice. If the "stable" version is this badly broken, why would you expect users of a browser named after a dead bird, one that died in an experiment, to fare any better.
One more thing: The horde of reporters is around for the launch, with universal praise for the new king of the hill. They're almost never around to report the messes that are left behind after a product achieves market dominance.
You gotta love the ingenuity of this keyboard for the new iOS. You type words, and out the other end come Emojis. A product totally in tune with the time. It's grunting and snorting with style. First we got reduced to 140 chars. With Apple Watch it's gone the next step -- a heart beat. By definition, everyone who's alive can express themselves that way. No need for words or punctuation. Soon there will be a watch for your cat. They have heartbeats too. Now Twitter seems opulently verbose. What's next? The real breakthrough will come when we have a device that the dead can use to express themselves.
Scripting News: What should TAG Heuer do?
Scripting News: One way I keep the trolls at bay.
So for example when I asked about places to donate a car, a post that got me a lot of good advice, I can quickly get back to it by choosing it from the History menu.
If I were a musician that competed with U2, I would be pissed that Apple just gave them $100 million and a historic distribution deal. After all, in an instant, U2 is the most distributed music of all time. More than the Beatles, Beethoven, anyone. And was it based on some kind of merit? Is Tim Cook really a judge of what's the best music? Doesn't U2 already have billions of dollars? Couldn't they find a better use for the money?
For a company that makes products that are supposedly about personal creativity, they seem to focus on elite creativity a bit too much. I suspect in their minds, the people who run Apple, and the people who run U2, our function is to admire them, and accept our own mediocrity. This is one reason I find it so galling that the press takes it up the ass so thoroughly for Apple. I would like there to be categories of products with competition. There must be something good about Android watches. But so far the message is the sold-out one. Apple Apple Apple. It's all about Apple. Why should anyone else bother to compete? You lost before you started.
The NBA has 30 teams. Any one of them can win the championship in any season. If there was only one team that could win, I doubt if there would be much interest in basketball. For some reason tech has always been like this. There was IBM, then Microsoft, now it's Apple. We'll do better when we can accept our technology from a wide variety of sources, including god forbid, ordinary people who just happen to have a lot of talent.
Scripting News: I'm a Narrate Your Work guy.
Scripting News: What do nice Internet users do?
So when users ask for a new feature that's obviously needed very early in the life of a product, for example, where Radio3 is now, while I recognize there's a need to simplify and automate a repetitive process for the users, for me as a designer, the repetition, the drill of it, is how I will figure out how to address the issue.
I can't tell you how many times I didn't resist the temptation for an easy quick fix, and then had to live with a foolish newbie decision for the whole life of the product. Two years later when people ask why it works that foolish way, after *they* have experience with the grind, I have to say it's because I moved too quickly.
I'm now working on something I've already done a dozen times. This time, I see how to organize it. The other 12 times I was fumbling around in the dark. How long did this take? In this case -- 2 years.
Scripting News: Like screaming into a big barrel.
Scripting News: 9/11/2001. I was up, and blogging, in Calif, when the first plane hit the WTC. Scripting News was a focal point that day. There weren't many blogs, and the journalists in NY were off the air. My father, who worked a few blocks from Ground Zero, was missing (he walked home to Queens, and was safe). It was a day of big change, and in retrospect, huge growth. We learned a lot, our fears were newly exposed. We were living on a big house of cards, and part of the foundation, the assumption that we were safe from attack, had been knocked out. Even the United States was not safe.
Radio3 0.52 does podcasts.
Radio3 0.53 has a simple API.
Scripting News: Which Markdown do you use?
Radio3 v0.51 release notes.
Scripting News: Thanks MacWorld!
Scripting News: Apple Pay is the big deal.
Joe Moreno: The Failure of Technology.
Scripting News: Knight library challenge.
That's former Vice-President Dick Cheney in the background. Urging us on to yet another war in Iraq. More money for his buds in the defense industry from the US Treasury.
Little Card: Will we get fooled again?
Radio3 v0.49 works with WordPress.
Scripting News: So I'm siding with Gruber.
"Hilarity ensues" is the proper punchline to every Internet story.
The perfect comment.
Everything would seem okay until I had to reload Fargo (which doesn't happen often). Then I'd see an old version of the file. When I looked in the Fargo app folder in Dropbox, I'd see a huge number of conflicted copies. One of those copies contained the latest version. A bit of poking around, and renaming of files, and I was back in business. Until the next reload.
I reported it this afternoon on the Dropbox developer bulletin board, and Greg got back to me right away. They're always very responsive when there are problems. It appears as if it was the same problem other apps that use the API were reporting. When they fixed the problem for the other developers, it seems to have fixed it for Fargo. That's why I'm writing this post now. To see if it's behaving rationally once again. Looks good. The most recent version of this file is the one without "Conflicted Copy" in its name. Whew.
Tomorrow 2000 reporters and bloggers will visit Apple in Cupertino, watch a stage performance with Apple's top execs, and write in gushing terms, the exact same story, every one of them, exactly as dictated by Apple Computer, Inc.
Meanwhile, there's been a rebellion in Markdown-land, a real story, not a press release rewrite, but there has been, as far as I can tell, not one story by any tech reporter. Confirming the belief that they only write stories that are sanctioned by big companies. Or news about their stock prices. Or rumblings from competitors about eating their lunch.
It's not as if there aren't some famous companies involved in this would-be takeover. But I'm not a reporter, and I'm not going to try to do their jobs. Suffice it to say, if you do a teeny bit of digging (hint: read my blog and follow the links) you'll find out who they are (GitHub and Stack Exchange) and you'll find one side of the controversy very thoroughly explored, with pointers included (as is fair) to the other side.
I know reporters don't like it when non-reporters are critical of them. But this is the normal business of tech news. It just comes to an incredibly lunatic head when Apple has a press conference. They forget entirely who they are and what their jobs are. It's a good time for The Rest Of Us (thanks Steve) to use our critical judgement to decide whether we need real tech reporting or if this ersatz kind is sufficient.
Philosophically, these rituals, esp when they're about Apple, are echoes of a great event that took place in 1984. There wasn't any news at that event either. But at least we had a great showman putting on the show of his life. It was theater of the first order. When the Mac came out of the bag, it was truly fantastic, even though I personally had already been playing with (couldn't really say "using") a Mac for several months at the time. He was Carl Sagan and PT Barnum wrapped up in one very smug arrogant package. And he did it so well.
Radio3 v0.48. In this release, as an experiment, we send full links to Twitter, instead of shortened ones. Seems to work just fine.
Best. Tweet. Ever: "Nice people are assholes."
Since everyone is telling Twitter what to do these days, I thought I'd offer a few ideas. They fall into two categories. Things you can do for power users. And things they should do to make it work better for the masses. The needs are very different. Trying to make one user interface work for all of them is making Twitter less workable for both.
1. There are lots of quick fixes that could be done for power users. For example, unfollow someone for one day. This takes care of people you want to stay in touch with but who are liveblogging some conference you're not interested in. That one feature would earn you a year of love from power users. BTW, the mute command was very welcome. I decided you were listening, at least a little, based on that alone.
2. Buy Flipboard, or quickly get a Flipb0ard-like product ready. That's what you should be offering newbies. Give them an easy and obvious way to "graduate" into the boiler room, the algorithm-less timeline the power users use (and say it's w/o algorithms, clearly and unambiguously).
3. Evolve the two user experiences to fit the different needs of both. You need the power users to create content for the newbies. It pays to make an investment in their happiness and productivity. We're working for you for free, I bet that's where a lot of your P/E ratio comes from, btw.