Hi! My name is Cédric Bozzi, I make websites and iOS apps, and this is my blog about technology (mostly a Twitter archive, really).

3 September 2008

Tabs on top never worked for me in Opera, yet in the Chrome screenshots it seems so obvious and natural.

Why do the British say “forward slash” when reading a URL out loud?

9 September

Air Sharing (iPhone)

I’ve already seen announcements about several applications that let you freely copy and store files on your iPhone, but this one is free for the first two weeks (starting yesterday) so I’m in a position to test it (I don’t need such an app enough for me to buy one) and strongly recommend that you hurry and install it as well.

Like I said, I don’t know how good the competitors are, but I can tell you that this one is very well done: whenever Air Sharing is open on your iPhone, it acts like a WebDAV server (I’m surprised they couldn’t use the underlying OS X network layer to provide standard Apple or Windows filesharing, but on second thought they might likely be hidden from the official SDK), which appears to be natively accessible from any Mac or PC; the iPhone doesn’t spontaneously appear in your computer’s network list, but all you have to do is type the http address in Finder / Explorer and create a shortcut to the network drive. The beauty of it being that you don’t need any special software on the computer, and you can access your files from any wifi-connected computer, anywhere.

That means you can use Air Sharing to transfer files, or to carry some important files everywhere with you in a way that’s even more elegant than a USB key (although it will deplete your iPhone’s battery pretty quickly if you don’t plug it in); but you can also view the files on your iPhone, and a wide variety of formats are supported — from Safari web archives to syntax-highlighted source code. Right now I’ve used it to store subway maps (you can’t use iPhoto for that, as it will automatically resize them down to just slightly bigger than the device’s screen), but I’m pretty sure I’ll find other uses for it (although I haven’t got much free space on my old 8GB).

All the settings you need are there, too: you can choose whether to set a password (since the server is only active when the application is open — i.e., not in the background — and you need to know the phone’s IP address to access it, you probably don’t need to set one if you don’t have super-secret files), turn off sharing at any time (so you can view files in the app while the server is disabled, which is more secure and probably saves battery life), and prevent the phone from going to sleep (and automatically closing the application) when Air Sharing is open — you can even choose whether you want to disable sleep completely (so you can access your network drive all-day while the iPhone is charging on its dock) or just set a longer inactivity timer (so you have time to rummage through folders from your computer even if your iPhone’s system setting is to turn off very quickly when you don’t touch it).

This is a very nice piece of software; a must-download for free for two weeks, and clearly worth the $7 it will cost afterwards if you do have a use of it. (Reminder: “free for two weeks” on the App Store means you can download it, and keep it and use it, for free, forever, and even get updates for free as long as they don’t change the application ID — i.e., probably until version 2.0.)

Stevenote 2008.09

What a weird opening to a very bland keynote. I know Apple’s a little bit past not acknowledging the rumors about Steve’s health now, but that’s… I don’t know, it’s just weird. Do we get this slide because, no matter what he announced, he knew Apple’s stock would drop once again after the keynote because he looked thin?

 

iTunes 8: the “Genius” (dear god…) automatic playlist creation and iTunes Store recommendation engine is long overdue (I’m talking on principle — I’d be very surprised if I didn’t disable it after ten seconds); it looks like Grid View might finally bring the long-awaited possibility to start playing albums with a single click and have playback stop when the album’s done. You know, like when you play a record. Because you want to listen to that record and not just listen to a neverending stream of music that happens to be below it in alphabetical order.

 

iPod classic: I still think the Classic should become a hard-drive-based iPod touch (with a big label warning against trying to shake the accelerometer too much, I guess). I don’t quite get how they replace the 80GB and 160GB models with a single 120GB — you know, that’s… less. Were there really technical (or economical) problems, or did customers complain that the capacity of their iPods was too daunting?

 

iPod nano: The most interesting thing about it is that the rumors were 100% right, quite a bit of time before the keynote. Well, that and Apple is able to realize when a new design is crap, and step back. I don’t think it looks great, though, and really wonder by what magical properties the curved glass doesn’t distort the image.

And I can’t fucking believe the “shake to shuffle” rumor was real. Steve has spent too much time approving crappy iPhone apps for the Store.

 

iPod touch: the curvy, shiny aluminum back looks weird to me but, hey, look — volume control! Speaking of which…

 

In-ear headphones, possibly of the “good” variety: “The remote and mic are supported only by iPod nano (4th generation), iPod classic (120GB), and iPod touch (2nd generation).” I care more about volume control on the remote than the two drivers, and I’m not sure I actually want in-ear headphones anyway, but — what the fuck? It doesn’t look like a typo, since they’re compatible with the new iPod touch and not the original; how moronic is it that they’re releasing new headphones with mic that don’t work with the iPhone?

(There’s a tiny chance that the page could be updated in a few days to include iPhones and iTouches updated to firmware 2.1, but you could imagine that a hard-wired technical limitation would prevent it, and they wouldn’t have figured at original design time that they might want to add buttons on the remote later. As bone-headed as it would be.)

 

iPhone 2.1 : Is there going to be no new functionality at all? I’m not counting the Genius playlists, because I don’t care a bit about it in the first place, and it doesn’t make much sense to me that you’d want to use Genius playlist creation on your mobile device instead of iTunes (by the way, you have to wonder how powerful it can really be if it’s going to be included the iPod nano’s firmware). I just want something new to play with.

10 September

I consistently get my voicemail messages one hour after I missed a call. Yay for iPhone and Orange.

11 September

Keyboart shortcuts for iTunes 8’s new visualizer

Come to think of it, it makes no sense at all that Steve didn’t show a single visual during the keynote; it’s absolutely superb. And it annoys me more than ever that they removed the Visualizer button from the iTunes window a while ago (well, it made sense at the time, but now it’s sorely missed — does the Genius really need two buttons in the status bar?).

I want a big HDTV, and I’ll use the iPhone Remote application so I never have to close the visualizer.

History of the browser user-agent string

And Internet Explorer supported frames, and yet was not Mozilla, and so was not given frames. And Microsoft grew impatient, and did not wish to wait for webmasters to learn of IE and begin to send it frames, and so Internet Explorer declared that it was “Mozilla compatible” and began to impersonate Netscape, and called itself Mozilla/1.22 (compatible; MSIE 2.0; Windows 95), and Internet Explorer received frames, and all of Microsoft was happy, but webmasters were confused.

I’ve seen a broken iPhone in the flesh. Uh, in the broken glass. So sad and so terrifying.

13 September

Podcasts

Qui dans l’assistance écoute (ou a écouté, puis abandonné) des podcasts dans les deux listes suivantes ?

 

(Je profite de l’occasion pour vous signaler que, si la réponse est “non” à tout, il serait temps que vous vous y mettiez — même si je ne recommande pas forcément tous les podcasts que j’ai listés ci-dessus — vu que vous je suis sûr que vous avez un iPod, et donc iTunes. La talk-radio n’est pas morte !)

16 September

C’est grave, de nos jours, de lancer un site qui fait planter IE6 ?

iPhone, le seul téléphone qu’il faut reformater pour le désimlocker.

Damn, WritingPad has disappeared from the App Store and I hadn’t copied it to my Mac.

The Xbox 360 drops to 180€

Following last week’s price drop in the US, Microsoft also lowers the console’s price in Europe: starting this Friday, the Arcade version (no hard drive, one wired controller) will be available for 180€, while the 60GB Premium console goes for 240€ and the 120GB Elite for 300€.

As a reminder, a crappy Wii that only has a couple ugly games worth playing (what, me, biased?) still costs 250€, and the cheapest PS3 is 390€ on Amazon.

For 180€ you could have a console that can play these gorgeous, fun games online with your friends (if you make them buy Xboxes too):

 

 

If you’ve got a high-definition TV, you really have no excuse not to get an Xbox. Get on it, people. (Come on, it’s me, recommending a Microsoft system; there’s got to be a good reason. And this is not a paid message.)

17 September

Garoo presents: web is pink

Once upon a time there was a garoo who dreamed of being a webdesigner, or a podcast host, or a lottery winner, or George Lucas, only with talent, or maybe even without, and in fact he dreamed of being anything at all but a webdesigner; he just happened to be good with PHP and passable with Photoshop so he had no choice but to use his Gods-given talents to earn some money and occasionally pay his rent.

Since he was a very bad salesman, and he hated people, and both of those things were obviously quite linked, the life of a freelance wasn’t that ideal for him, but the life of an employee was even less so, and as a result it was rather hard for him to actually earn money and not waste the aforementioned talents; and waste them he did. He opened blogs by the dozen to let them wither and die, launched community sites without an inkling of a strategy to make money or anything out of them, and spent the better half of each day reading news blogs and forging for himself an incomparable knowledge of all things technical out of which he would never get to produce anything.

He didn’t know what to do with his time, and less yet how to transform it into money, so he was willing to try anything and invest himself into any project that seemed the most remotely liable to earn him a score of euros over ten years, as long as it didn’t entail looking for clients and working for them anymore, and that’s how he ended up developing yet another gay cruising site, because whenever he wasn’t working he was hunting on the virtual land, and he knew the market well, and he knew there wasn’t a single existing site that wasn’t fucking crap, and lo and behold he created the website that was to kill them all, and he named it web is pink because finding an available domain name is the single hardest thing you can endeavor to do nowadays.

 

 

In short, I just couldn’t help myself. After I gave up on GayAttitude — either cowardly or heroically, your choice — mainly because its co-creator and I couldn’t agree anymore on how to make the site evolve, I tried to resist the temptation for a while, but couldn’t: I spend quite a bit of time logged onto various gay sites, and it’s particularly painful for a web developer to have to spend time on poorly-designed user-hostile websites.

Web is pink intends to be the most accessible, convenient site on the web, without skimping on functionality. At least that’s the goal. For now there’s a homepage inspired by the new Facebook, complete profiles, a simple and visual search interface that I think and hope to be more convenient than any other, a blog system of course, and a lot of little details to be discovered (and more yet to be added).

The site is in private beta right now, because that’s how I understand you’re supposed to generate buzz these days, and because I’ve got a couple of things to tie up before I can launch it publicly (and I’ve got to find some more money, too); in the purest tradition of marketing 2.0, I figured I needed to play the limited-invite card, so here’s a code that will only work for the first ten people who use it: click !

Do I buy a 3G dock or whip out my Dremel? Ah, yeah, I don’t have a Dremel.

Nekophone 2.0

On the one hand, the black version attracts fingerprints like flies; on the other, I think the white version, with a black face (with blackface?), looks weird. So I’m glad I didn’t have a choice.

 

 

Migration was more seamless than I expected, but I could have done without waiting an hour while iTunes had to redownload the 2.1 firmware.

Not that I’d complain about finally having the opportunity to unpack a virgin iPhone at home, but I’m surprised the salesman didn’t even offer to transfer the SIM card himself.

I absolutely hate the new screen color balance, but I guess you’re supposed to get used to it quickly. Ah, and I forgot I needed to buy the dock separately.

 

 

There’s a time-limited upgrade offer for buyers of the original iPhone, and they ask you to send copies of the receipts of your first iPhone and the new one, along with the signed contract update and your bank account information. All of which those assholes already have on file, obviously.

3G does just what I wanted it to: it doesn’t take an hour to connect every time I need it.

18 September

Clarifi

An iPhone case including a retractable lens for macro photography; why didn’t anyone think of it before? If you’re going to double the device’s bulk with ugly plastic or neoprene or whatever, then damn right you should use this opportunity to stick a better lens on top of the integrated webcam!

There are no photo examples I can find, but I guess Griffin is a serious brand and they wouldn’t sell this if it were snake oil.

19 September

I don’t want to know how much time I spent today reprogramming the awful JQuery-based lightbox I had downloaded.

22 September

Another iPhone app rejected

Okay, now it is getting really bad. As long as the scandal only involved Podcaster, I didn’t think it was a big deal, because you could find a plethora of excuses: Apple’s application approval process is probably quite random in depending on what individual reviewer your app is stuck with, and what mood he’s in; and Podcaster is made to download relatively big files over the air, so the rejection letter could just be a hollow excuse when they were in fact just placating AT&T’s; or maybe there was some other hidden and undecipherable reason. But, at any rate, I couldn’t take the official reason for the rejection at face value; it didn’t make sense.

Well, there appears to be a new rejected App Store candidate with the exact same reason — a Gmail “email client” (more like a WebKit control with a list of logins and passwords) that “duplicates the functionality of the built-in iPhone application Mail without providing sufficient differentiation or added functionality, which will lead to user confusion.

This is coming out ten days after the Podcaster thing; it’s happening too soon to say they’re not taking notice of the blogosphere’s reaction to that story, but it’s still clear evidence that the first occasion was not a fluke, and there must have been a policy of rejecting applications that “duplicate iPhone functionality.” (I’d be curious to check what other stupid, useless applications have been approved and published in the same ten days.)

I still think they’re going to realize that it can’t work, and they’ll change course, but I’m having a really hard time finding excuses for the App Store team devising such a policy in the first place — I guess it may be an over-the-top reaction to the original land grab of inane iPhone apps in the first few months, but someone who’s capable of taking stupid decisions like this should not be in charge of supervising the App Store approval process.

 

I’m a little confused as to why the reviewer would have bothered to add that “there is also no way to edit an account once it has been added” if the application is unfit to be on the iPhone in the first place, but I guess he or she was just being a wise-ass.

 

Wonder if the Apple will be able to dual-boot Android / iPhone OS. Well, I wonder how complicated it will be.

27 September

I wish my iPod bothered to know what podcast I was just listening to in iTunes when I synced.

I start Firefox, go to pee, blow my nose, pour myself a drink, and I’m surprised when a big grey window opens up and I forgot I launched it.

28 September

Hollywood Film Kit

I love this! Too bad the video quality is probably awful.

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