NBC stop lying to me

Dear NBC,

I just watched the final on the CBC, don’t show me video of the team getting off the bus and say that they just arrived and competition should get started in about an hour.

Morons.

Yer pal,

Kevin

[update 11:21PM PST]
NBC is now claiming to be broadcasting something “live” that the New York Times has already reported the outcome of and the CBC actually did broadcast live a few hours ago. I can understand tape delay for the west coast, but three hours ago was prime time on the west coast. You could have shown it then. And don’t freaking call it live when it isn’t.

Another iPhone App that I don’t feel like writing…

I’m pretty sure that this app exists for other smart phones and I know that a similar thing exists for normal PCs.

An App that scans the barcode using the built-in camera and then allows you to look it up on your choice of site: froogle, Amazon, whatever… To see if you want to buy it on-line instead.

I’d write this one myself, but it isn’t anything I’d be that jazzed about writing and supporting for a long time… It should be something that Amazon would jump right on if they weren’t worried about getting sued…

freebie iPhone app idea for the real estate websites

yes, this one is for you redfin, windermere, et al. Normally, I’d sit on idea like this, but lets be real. I’m not going to write this one. So, as a customer, I’m asking you guys to do it for me.

I want an iPhone app version of your websites.

Obvious:

  • Get me details on the houses presented for the iPhone screen size
  • Show me houses for sale near my current location

Less Obvious

  • Let me pick a bunch of houses to view on the website: give me a tour, in-order, with turn-by-turn directions
  • Show me how far and the way to get to the nearest: school, park, etc.

Go for it, I’ll use it, and if you want to toss me a commission or make me VP of product development, I’m cool with that.

No IPhone For You!

noiphoneforyou.jpg

Guess I’m not strolling into a store tomorrow to pick one up after skipping standing in the hot sun for three days.

found a weird OS X 10.5.3 bug

sometimes when my MBP turns off the monitor for power save, when it re-activates, the screen is black. I get the password dialog, but then the screen is black. If I hit the power button, I get the dialog for sleep/restart/cancel, but if cancel, the screen is black. Weirdest of all, if I hit fn-F8 I get the display of all my spaces, but when I choose one, the screen is black. This is obviously a software thing, something is drawing that black box, but if I do the force quit, I quit the active app and not the screen power saver. Each time this happens, I have to power-cycle the machine. Really annoying.

64 bits, Adobe, Apple and Microsoft. kinda.

I find it hilarious to read some of the comments in news stories on technology companies, especially from folks who don’t write software for a living.

A lot of the evil that people accuse Microsoft of is really incompetence, short sightedness, tunnel vision or good intentions misinterpreted. People hate Microsoft, so they choose to see evil in it’s every decision. Most of the folks at Microsoft are smart, hard-working, honest people that want to make really cool software. Of course, I’ve met many MS folks who are testosterone-driven idiots without a creative bone in their body that just want to kill every other software company in existence. Too often, people mistake a move by the former folks as a scheme by the latter. This is horrible for the good folks at MS, but if that company wanted to fix its image, it wouldn’t have made a chair-throwing, hyper-aggressive salesman to be the CEO.

When John Nack posted about Adobe’s decision not to do 64-bit Photoshop for OS X in the next release, he knew he was going to get attacked for it. I thought he did an awesome job going through the reasons behind the decision without throwing blame around. I thought he gave real insight into what happened. He was open and up-front about everything and completely clear. Yet, you read the comments on the various sites and you can see that people read what they want to read and will interpret any decision within the context of what they want to believe. I’ve had more visibility into the decision-making hierarchies at Adobe than any other company I’ve ever worked for, and I can tell you that the people I work with always want to do the right thing for the people that use our software. No one is playing political games with Apple. Just because Steve Jobs says something is easy doesn’t actually make it easy. If it was always that easy, Final Cut Pro would be a 64-bit cocoa app already.

People who don’t write desktop software don’t understand why it might be harder than checking a checkbox to port from the PowerPC to Intel. People who don’t write desktop software don’t understand why it might be hard to write a new operating system from scratch or why having 100s of engineers doesn’t make it go faster. People also don’t understand that in an application where performance is paramount (like a media editing application), porting to a new operating system, hardware platform or compiler is a lot trickier than it seems because a lot of code is there doing tricky platform-specific stuff that has been hand tuned over years. People who don’t write software don’t understand what kind of effort it is to port millions of lines of code built in C++ against Carbon into Objective-C using Cocoa.

Maybe people shouldn’t care. It’s probably a bad idea to see how the sausage is made, right? This is probably true up to the point that people claim something is easy when they have no idea of the actual effort involved.

Apple isn’t evil. Apple is secretive. This is fun as a customer. This is evil as a developer. Microsoft will promise something for years, deliver betas and then pull the plug. Apple will be silent and then spring a huge change on its developers and then chastise them for not rewriting their apps from scratch again.

I don’t know if there is much of a point here except to say that before you accuse a company of screwing over their users for some political end, you might want to try and understand the real issues.

iPhone SDK: The carrot for Cocoa, the stick for Flash

Apple has a problem. How do they attract and keep developers on their platform? They created an Apple-only API that requires a variant of C long thought dead. Developers aren’t so keen on having to learn a new programming language that doesn’t give them any advantage over their existing ones and ties them to a platform with a tiny market share. It means re-using code across platforms becomes nearly impossible. It’s just not an attractive prospect. The impromptu surveys done from the stages of the Apple World-Wide Developer Conference continuously surprise the Apple employees that most of their developers prefer to write in C++ even as Apple tries to marginalize it.

So, first Apple announces all these ObjC-only APIs, like Cocoa, Core Animation, etc… They get some converts on some new apps, but mostly the developers ignore the APIs and demand C++-compatible versions (which Apple promises they will never get).

Then, at WWDC 2007, Steve announces that the world of 64-bit is here and tells all Mac developers that it is their duty now to port all their apps to 64-bit. Just as he demanded they embrace Intel and OS X before it. A short while later, Apple announces quietly that it will not support Carbon for 64-bit. Basically, Steve tells the Apple developers that have supported him the longest, “screw you. You do as your told. I’m in charge here.”

Now, if you are an Apple developer, or an aspiring Apple developer, the world of RIAs is getting pretty attractive around this point. It let you step off the Apple crazy train and also embrace all the folks on the iPhone, Linux and Windows too. Plus, the technology around RIAs has grown pretty mature. Soon, you realize that doing this all in HTML is kind of pain in the ass. If you can get it to look right in one browser, it looks crappy in another. You spend all your time fixing your CSS or javascript and very little of it writing code. Something like Flash or Flex start to become pretty attractive. You can get your whizzy UI and not have to sweat the cross-platform or cross-browser problem. Then comes AIR, even better! Now you can have the web experience and desktop experience identical, plus it works when you are offline! Apple hates this.

Apple (and Microsoft for the same reason) wants you locked into their platform. Apple can’t try to kill Flash (a la Silverlight) because they don’t have the adoption (or money) to make it happen. But they can use the iPhone. It’s the coolest device around, the herald of a new class of computer devices, and it doesn’t run Flash. Then, just before the iPhone SDK announcement, Steve comes out and trashes it. Then they announce the iPhone SDK. Anyone see through the BS a bit? “Hey our phone isn’t powerful enough to run a web banner ad, but we can run Spore!” C’mon.

The iPhone SDK looks neat, but Cocoa and ObjC only? That sucks. I’d way prefer Flash or even Java support, at least that way I could release a mobile app with a desktop version that shares some of the code.

MacWorld Keynote… feh

The coolest recent Apple announcement is the upgrade to the MacPros, in my book. The Air is cute, but for a little extra heft, the MacBook is still a better computer in every way. And the MacBook is still underpowered for my taste.

Who really cares about thin? Once you are hitting that sub 14″ category, isn’t weight the most important thing? My 12″ PB is a better mini-machine than the MacBook Air.

The ModBook is a more exciting machine to me.

The new iPhoneOS? Cool, but I’m still going to wait for 3G.

The new AppleTV, nice, but not a major improvement.

Renting movies, over due. Available one month after DVD? Sucky.

Wireless NAS? Cute form factor, nice price, but not revolutionary.

Was anyone really blown away by today’s announcements?

wow, Apple you tricked me again

There are three rules that everyone knows.

  1. Never Get Out of the Boat
  2. Never Get Involved in a Land War in Asia
  3. Never upgrade your Apple OS if things are working fine.

I’d been on 10.4.8 on my main get-work-done machine for a while. There was no reason to upgrade. It was solid. I had no problems. Also, 10.4.9 was a piece of crap.

Then I had a problem. An iTunes problem which was also several dot releases behind. iTunes hung for some reason. After Effects hung at the same time, so it probably wasn’t an iTunes problem, but I’d been meaning to upgrade anyway so that I could get the un-DRM’d files from the iTunes store. So, I upgraded iTunes. The new iTunes hung immediately when I tried to download or play a file.

After trying a bunch of stuff, for some stupid reason, I decided to try installing 10.4.10. Mostly, it works except when external drives just go away for some reason. Which is a serious feaking problem, especially when you consider that one of the big “fixes” in 10.4.10 was around external drives. What happens to iTunes when the external drive where your files live goes away? It hangs hard. Like, you can’t reboot hard. Like you have to power cycle the machine hard.

Since trying to upgrade iTunes on Saturday morning, I’ve had to power cycle my most important machine about a dozen times.

the lesson: Never get out of the boat.

Apple announces iPhone/iPod Touch SDK coming in February

Apple – Hot News
Third Party Applications on the iPhone

Let me just say it: We want native third party applications on the iPhone, and we plan to have an SDK in developers’ hands in February. We are excited about creating a vibrant third party developer community around the iPhone and enabling hundreds of new applications for our users. With our revolutionary multi-touch interface, powerful hardware and advanced software architecture, we believe we have created the best mobile platform ever for developers.

It will take until February to release an SDK because we’re trying to do two diametrically opposed things at once—provide an advanced and open platform to developers while at the same time protect iPhone users from viruses, malware, privacy attacks, etc. This is no easy task. Some claim that viruses and malware are not a problem on mobile phones—this is simply not true. There have been serious viruses on other mobile phones already, including some that silently spread from phone to phone over the cell network. As our phones become more powerful, these malicious programs will become more dangerous. And since the iPhone is the most advanced phone ever, it will be a highly visible target.

Some companies are already taking action. Nokia, for example, is not allowing any applications to be loaded onto some of their newest phones unless they have a digital signature that can be traced back to a known developer. While this makes such a phone less than “totally open,” we believe it is a step in the right direction. We are working on an advanced system which will offer developers broad access to natively program the iPhone’s amazing software platform while at the same time protecting users from malicious programs.

We think a few months of patience now will be rewarded by many years of great third party applications running on safe and reliable iPhones.

Steve

P.S.: The SDK will also allow developers to create applications for iPod touch. [Oct 17, 2007]