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

1 May 2010

“Waiting for iTunes.com? Don’t Hold Your Breath”

But that went nowhere quickly — “a swing and a miss”, in the words of an industry insider — because the labels argued that streaming a single purchase to multiple devices constituted multiple uses, which meant they should receive more for the songs they sell through iTunes.

In short, Apple bought Lala for nothing, because the only reason Lala was allowed to exist was precisely that it was competing with iTunes, not operating from under the same roof.

2 May

Hell is helping someone carry their 27-inch iMac home.

In other news, I really fancy the 1680x1050 15-inch MacBook Pro with matte screen.

4 May

I end up liking the Magic Mouse much more than I expected. They do know their way around touch. (But still prefer the trackpad, if course.)

Did I really get locked out of my iMac’s screen sharing forever (or until I log in locally) because I typed the wrong password 3 times?

My silly iMac went to sleep when I typed the wrong screensaver password three times yesterday over screen sharing. High-maintenance bitch.

Just received confirmation from Panic that Transmit 4 does upload to temp then rename when overwriting remote files. Instant must-buy.

(Granted, that only matters if you’re uploading PHP files straight to your production server, and that’s bad. So sue me.)

“iPhone OS 4 Beta 3 Available, First Details”

I don’t like the new multitasking/folder background — in fact, I find it worse than the previous version — but this is excellent news:

The [multitasking] tray now also features iPod controls and rotation lock button (you have to swipe left, like [when getting to the Spotlight home screen])

5 May

I wonder if the iPhone / iPad will be the final nail in the apostrophes coffin.

“Kin available tomorrow, but pricing may hamper adoption”

As noted by mocoNews, the $100 mail-in rebate comes back in the form of a debit card, not a check, so those $50 and $100 price tags truly are more like $150 and $200. On top of that, Verizon’s voice and data plans for the Kin cost a minimum of $60 per month [just like the iPhone].

And that’s what Microsoft released instead of the Courier.

(On the plus side, they are reportedly super buggy, so maybe the Courier was simply canceled because they never managed to make it work. Still sad, but a better reason. Imagine what trouble you’d be in if you had to decide whether to buy the coolest device ever, that crashes every two minutes.)

6 May

Not to be reactionary, but I don’t like the new Google (except for the much improved logo). Sidebar is messy with its icons and big text.

I’m pretty sure Transmit 4’s DockSend takes much longer to connect than the previous version, and that’s inconvenient for my use case.

7 May

RT @simonw: So apparently Ajax means “uses JavaScript” and HTML5 now means “doesn’t use Flash”

Ah, Twitter n’est pas calme ce soir, c’est juste Echofon qui déconne encore.

8 May

“Zynga Gunning Up (And Lawyering Up) For War Against Facebook With Zynga Live”

To make matters worse, say sources, Facebook is trying to get Zynga to agree to a long term deal where Zynga remains primarily on the Facebook platform. During negotiations Facebook has taken some steps to punish Zynga, such as shutting off notifications for Farmville and other games, and Facebook has threatened, say multiple sources, to simply shut some of Zynga’s games down permanently.

Wow. As far as evil monopolitic practices go, this is impressive, even for Face “All Your Data Are Belong To Us” Book.

I want to believe that Zynga has been collecting hard evidence.

9 May

“This Is How That Dating Site For Apple-Obsessed People Looks”

Really? They’d need to do better than that. (And here’s why being a closed beta helps your media coverage.)

RT @ArthurOnTour: “Techniquement, si j’en crois l’histoire d’Adam & Eve, le plus vieux métier du monde c’est vendeur chez Apple.”

Come on, I don’t want to pay $20 just to enable the VPN server that’s already included in my OS.

11 May

“Confirmed: Apple and AT&T signed five-year iPhone exclusivity deal”

We’ve been doing some digging and we can now confirm that Apple and AT&T entered into a five-year iPhone exclusive in 2007, based on court documents filed by Apple in California.

Wow. Looking back, it’s amazing to think Apple needed to accept terms like these in order to get the launch conditions it needed and single-handedly reinvent the smartphone.

12 May

Great. Looks like my expensive SSD-based MySQL server is broken.

I wish I had a reserve of comfort food for when my server disappears into the void with the whole site. But I’d empty it whenever I’m bored.

I just love having to restart Echofon after I find it weird that nothing’s happened for two hours. O Tweetie 2, where art thou?

Echofon popped up “Fixed a bug where automatic refresh stopped sometimes” just as I pressed Cmd-Enter. Fine, then, I guess.

Portal for free? o_O Damn, and I don’t have a MacBook Pro yet.

13 May

“Rumor: Apple to Make MobileMe Free”

I just realized that it would make a lot of sense, now that Apple is entering the ad-network business, for them to launch an ad-supported free version of MobileMe.

Aujourd’hui c’est mon serveur principal qui est injoignable… depuis Free, mais marche sur Orange. Et le serveur de mon client, l’inverse.

“Adobe: Our thoughts on open markets”

If the web fragments into closed systems, if companies put content and applications behind walls, some indeed may thrive — but their success will come at the expense of the very creativity and innovation that has made the Internet a revolutionary force.

And that’s their defense of Flash?

All hail the Fox News strategy: say the exact opposite of the truth, and expect that everybody will swallow it without questioning, and that Adobe will win by virtue of being the last to speak up. But do they expect this to work on their customer base — when half of that base is composed of Mac users who have been cursing the OS X Flash plugin for years?

(Not that there aren’t many Flash fans taking Adobe’s side of the argument; it’s just that this bullshit is not going to convince anybody in their favor, and can only do the opposite by sheer ridiculousness.)

Could someone who looked more into it tell me if Adobe’s answer to the “Flash on tablets” problem is bullshit or I just misunderstand it?

I’m unsubscribing from your podcast because somehow you haven’t noticed you’re posting half the video in the wrong aspect ratio.

15 May

“Steve Jobs Offers World ’Freedom From Porn’”

I dream of having my own flame exchange with Steve Jobs, but I’m too scared that he’ll hunt me down and kill my iPhone apps.

Besides, I make it a rule not to try and argue with people who are capable of shutting down a discussion with “What have you done that’s so great? Do you create anything, or just criticize others’ work?

16 May

Come on, the PowerShot G11 doesn’t do 720p?! #windowshopping

Saving State in iPhone Apps

1. I quit my twitter client for a minute to google something, grab a URL, or answer an IM. I go back to the twitter client to continue reading.

2. I quit my twitter client because I’m done reading it. It’s 11 PM and I’m going to bed.

In the first case I’d absolutely like to be back where I was. In the second case, however, this is only likely to confuse me and make me tap my way back to the timeline the next morning. It’s been ten hours; why would I still care to see the tweet I was looking at last night?

That’s a topic I’ve been pondering, particularly since the announcement of OS 4.0, with no good conclusion in sight, because it does get into mind-reading territory. What is it that my user is trying to do right now? (Why, hello, Clippy.)

For instance, Unicode always starts from a blank slate, because I assume that in most cases you want to start typing a new message, but there must be times when users are inconvenienced by that choice (not least of which, if they’ve been interrupted by a phone call in the middle of setting up text). And No Pic No Chat doesn’t remember where you were for the same reason: in most cases, you probably don’t really want it to (plus, there were slight technical complications, so I got lazy).

With multitasking in OS 4.0, though, that just doesn’t work so well anymore. When you switch away from an application, it’s going to remember its state as long as it’s in memory, whether the developer likes it or not (unless they actively work around that fact by resetting the app when it comes back to the front); but as soon as the OS removes it from memory, it’s going to start from scratch the next time it’s launched — making for a completely different user experience, for completely arbitrary reasons.

Switch away from Unicode to read a text message, then come back, and what you had originally typed is still in memory (whether you tap the app’s icon on the home screen or in the multitasking tray doesn’t make any difference, as far as I know). Switch away from Unicode to open a couple of really big websites in Safari, or play a video or whatever, and the OS will boot Unicode out of RAM, so the next launch will actually be a launch this time. Yet, as far as the user is concerned, their interaction with Unicode has been exactly the same in both cases — so their experience should also be exactly the same.

There’s no choice anymore, all apps pretty much have to save their state now (which is why Settings does, even if it can seem stupid, as Mrgan points out in his example). But what of those cases where you expect most users not to want their app’s state to be saved?

My recommendation is that apps should expire their saved states after n hours. What do I have in mind for n? That’s a hard call, but I’d pick a duration past which the human brain is unlikely to feel like it’s still “doing the same thing”. So, one hour, perhaps.

That’s a pretty interesting idea. (I wish I could have been bothered to have it myself.) When I get around to it, I might even go for something like fifteen minutes. If you’re away from Unicode for that long, you’re probably done with what you were working on.

 

P.S. While typing this I figured out a better way to handle the situation in Unicode — regardless of multitasking — so I’ll be posting an update someday soonish.

18 May

“MySpace promises users simpler privacy settings”

In a letter to users, MySpace’s co-president Mike Jones on Monday outlined the company’s stance on privacy and its place within social networking, as well as detailing what he calls a “simplified” version of the social network’s privacy settings that will roll out to users in the next few weeks.

Awww, it’s so cute! Come on, guys, let’s all pretend for one day that we care at all about what MySpace does!

“Photoshop CS5 applications crashing on quitting”

Adobe recently released its latest CS5 productivity suite for the Mac, and a few people have been experiencing a problem where applications (particularly Photoshop) seem to be crashing when they are quit.

Well, that’s new. Wait, no. It’s the other word.

19 May

“Facebook Launches 0.facebook.com, A Mobile Site That Incurs Zero Data Fees”

The lightweight site omits photos but includes core functionality like News Feed, status updates, profile Walls and messaging. And most important, Facebook has partnered with over 50 mobile carriers [worldwide] to offer free access to the site, without any data fees.

That’s a fascinating idea (going against the most basic concepts of net neutrality, mind you).

But I’m not sure how Facebook wants to monetize it. Are Madagascar, Rwanda and, uh, Belgium really itching for a mobile ad platform geared toward users who won’t buy a data plan?

Considering how much work has gone into Twitter for iPhone, it’s no wonder that Tweetie 2 for Mac has been taking its sweet time.

I’m disappointed that they didn’t (yet) take advantage of the opportunity to offer official push notifications, though.

“Google Font Directory”

The Google Font Directory lets you browse all the fonts available via the Google Font API. All fonts in the directory are available for use on your website under an open source license and served by Google servers.

This is pretty cool. Count on Google to optimize the code, and the binary downloads, better than anyone else; and the best news of all is that they are handling the whole license mess, and you don’t have to worry about anything if you’re using those web fonts.

But then, the point of web fonts is to personalize user experience, and how personalized will it really be when all sites use the same couple dozen fonts? (Even assuming that they expand the catalog over time.)

And, more importantly, I’m not convinced that web fonts are really that ready for public consumption — it appears that all browsers are standardizing on just hiding the text while its custom font loads, and that’s already happened to me a couple of times while browsing and I found it really annoying (it’s just awkward to have a blog post load, then its headings pop up ten seconds later).

On the other hand, if everyone starts using Google’s free fonts, everyone will have them in their browser’s cache already. So maybe we should really encourage it.

 

P.S. Ooh, scratch that: Introducing the WebFont Loader in Collaboration with Typekit. A JavaScript library that apparently allows developers to decide what the browser does while it’s loading your custom font. If it works well (and I have no reason to think it wouldn’t), that’s awesome.

“Do More with Google Latitude and Your Location Using the New Latitude API”

We wanted to give you even more ways to use your location, so today we’re announcing the Google Latitude API – an easy and safe way for you to use and reuse your Latitude location with any apps or services that you can imagine!

Yahoo did that with Fire Eagle, and failed (or didn’t try) to get it adopted. No doubt that Google is in a better position to make it, especially with Android and the new multitasking affordances for geolocation in iPhone OS 4.0.

With the current state of Apple’s relationship with Google, you have to wonder if we’ll get the functionality set up in the OS itself soon. (Google will have no problem submitting an app that updates your Latitude info, but you’ll always have to check the app is in your multitasking tray, and hasn’t been shut down to make room for a big video or game or whatever.)

 

That may be somewhat moot, though, because I can’t find in a cursory glance at the API any way to subscribe to a user’s location information — only the possibility of requesting it at any point in time. Which, if I’m not missing anything, makes the API somewhat useless for many use cases (until they add that capability).

20 May

“Facebook Knows Who You’ll Hook Up With”

Facebook’s CEO came up with a way of predicting who a given user would be dating one week in the future, according to a new book about the social network. And he did it for fun.

Geek. Creepy geek.

21 May

RT @bzavier: Glad [Google] decided to drop the “don’t be evil” motto, to replace it by, apparently, “I am legion”. Sure fits better their pervasive approach.

Funny, I had either missed or blocked out that all MacBooks Pro have a 512GB SSD option. Epic drool.

“J Allard leaving Microsoft over Courier axing?”

I want to believe that he did put his career on the line for the Courier. (Allard is the guy who oversaw the entire development of Xbox and Zu… uh, let’s stick with Xbox. And I hope that doesn’t mean the platform will self-destruct over the next two years; Sony does not deserve to win by forfeit.)

23 May

For the record: if the next iPhone still doesn’t have a simple LED to signal new messages when the screen’s off, Apple has jumped the shark.

Isn’t it odd that there are still no BTO options for MacBooks and MacBooks Pro to remove or replace the optical drive?

25 May

“HTML5 form demo”

Input validation doesn’t seem to work in Safari 4, but I really like this very simple bit:

input, textarea {

  -webkit-transition: all 0.5s ease-in-out;

  -moz-transition: all 0.5s ease-in-out;

  transition: all 0.5s ease-in-out;

}

input:focus, textarea:focus {

  -webkit-transform: scale(1.05);

  -moz-transform: scale(1.05);

  transform: scale(1.05);

}

Est-ce qu’il y a dans mes followers ou dans les vôtres une rockstar du dév iPhone — meilleur que moi !! — pour faire l’appli d’un client ?

“TypeSaver for iPad: When Typography Meets Famous Words”

I’m not sure what this app does exactly (unless it’s “pretty much nothing”) but I know what it inspired me: the makers of FontExplorer, Font Agent Pro, and so on, need to make companion apps for iPad that synchronize with your library of fonts so you can browse thumbnails on the iPad when you’re trying to decide what typography to use in a design.

The touchscreen experience is just made for browsing through stuff.

27 May

I don’t know why I’m so eager to make PDF magazines for the iPad when I hate some aspects of InDesign so much.

28 May

“Palm webOS Designer Matias Duarte Joining Google”

Mobile user interface master Matias Duarte has left Palm and evidently hired on at the most obvious of places: Google.

Can Google even handle a UI designer? It’s not so long ago that another rockstar designer left Google, evidently discouraged by the company’s religious faith in data over design.

I have no doubt that Google realizes the Android UI needs to improve if it’s going to try and beat the iPhone — and poaching a designer of webOS removes any doubt you might still have. But are they at all able to listen to him?

I’d be willing to take bets on how long before he quits.

“Apple’s Secret Weapon: Consumer Education”

By keeping a laser focus on key features and introducing them one at a time over a period of years, Apple taught and evangelized everything the consumer needed to know to understand the iPad from day one. Without that foundation, it’s not likely the product would have been nearly the success it has been.

That’s a great argument in favor of keeping your first release light on features. What matters is how early adopters experience your product; once you’ve got something that resembles mass adoption, it’s okay to introduce more functional complexity, because your existing users will have an easier learning curve and they will help new users. It’s that initial simplicity that Windows never really had. (Well, Windows 1.0 had simplicity; it just didn’t have users, or uses.)

You could even push the reasoning as far as saying that keeping third-party developers away from the iPhone for a year was the best thing Apple ever did.

“From iPhone to Android”

After a week of using Android, I’m conflicted. If you had asked me last Wednesday what phone i’d be using a week from now I’d without a doubt say the iPhone. Now that we’re here, however, I am sticking with Android until the new iPhone ships. Widgets, home screen customization, background processes and the notification system are things that I’ve grown incredibly fond of and would miss if I went back to the iPhone today.

Do you hear that, Steve? Home screen customization and an interface to actually manage the goddamn notifications — that’s not something for which we should have to wait until OS 8.0.

Oh, so that’s why Twitter is forcing the move to OAuth: so they can ban apps that don’t abide by the rules (e.g., hiding Twitter’s ads).

Ooh, 300 euros from Apple US. Suddenly I don’t mind the dollar’s exchange rate so much anymore.

I don’t have enough to buy both an iPad and an iPhone HD right away; which will it be? (I already know the answer.)

Did 1Password 3 lose the ability to change the toolbar icon?

Give me my money back!

I’m just about as satisfied with 1Password 3 as I was with Transmit 4. Both simple utilities suffering from the same inflated sense of self.

Daring Fireball on an Apple TV Without Local Storage

Decreasing the amount of storage inside the Apple TV is interesting, but sort of obvious once you think about it running iPhone OS. No iPhone OS device has ever supported hard disk drives, and I doubt they ever will.

That’s silly. Just because no iPhone OS device has ever had a hard drive doesn’t mean an iPhone OS-based Apple TV couldn’t. Seems to me that adding hard drive support back to the OS (if it’s ever been taken out) is significantly less work than rewriting the entire system for a TV and 6-button remote.

As for the whole idea of an Apple TV using the iPhone OS, the bottomline is: I don’t care what it runs, and neither do you — whichever guts Apple uses for the device, the interface will always be entirely specific to its form factor. (Using the iPhone OS base helps setting up an App Store, but it wouldn’t be too hard to port the store mechanics to MacOS instead.)

It does matter, though, if the switch helps Apple get to the $100 price point. (Which is also the reason — not a technical one — for the new Apple TV not to have a hard drive.)

Daring Fireball on Foxconn Suicides

Malcom Moore, the Telegraph’s Shanghai correspondent, suggests that Foxconn has painted itself into a tragic corner with its policy of paying large settlements to the families of suicides

Even I hate to be cynical about this, but — if the reported automatic settlement is true — it makes a lot of sense, and especially in the context of this bit from earlier today:

They’re jumpers. And jumpers, my friends, are a different breed. Ask any cop or shrink who deals with this stuff. Jumpers want to make a statement. Jumpers are trying to tell you something.

They could be trying to say: “Look at this, I very clearly jumped from the factory’s roof, so you totally have to give money to my family!” It only seems unthinkable to our Western sensibilities.

29 May

“Wired on iPad: Just like a Paper Tiger…”

All the fonts on the Wired app were rendered on a desktop platform, and provisioned to the app in the form of flat PNG files. The Wired app does not use the iPad’s rendering software at all.

What?!

If the lack of keyword filtering hasn’t killed Twitter yet, it’s definitely going to kill me soon #eurovision #rugby #whatever

Wow, May 2010 was the official fifth birthday of my iMac model. (Not sure which month of 2005 I bought it.)

31 May

Looks like my site has been down for the duration of the whole damn movie, and nobody told me.

Just bought an iPad?

Remember that your brand new cute little netbook is properly useless if you haven’t bought the indispensable Unicode app! Clicky clicky! Clicky even if you don’t have your iPad yet, since it’s a universal app that also works, and is also indispensable, on your iPhone.

(Hopefully I’ll soonish have an iPad of my own to test the interface on a live animal and fix what might need to be fixed.)

“ASUS Eee Tablet: a notepad with impressive 2450 dpi touchscreen sensitivity”

ASUS is really pushing the note taking feature with built-in notepad templates and the ability to store, sort, tag, and annotate your notes on the fly. It comes packing a MicroSD slot and 2 megapixel camera for snapping lecture slides which students or professionals can then annotate and then sync back to a PC over USB.

In other words, Asus took all that free Courier R&D from Microsoft and used it to make a cheap device that I kinda want. (And which would make me cry every time I use it, thinking of what could have been.)

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