US Airways Flight 1549 Airbus A320 Crash

True story, I was able to see the crash site from the office. Only had an iPhone 3 at hand, and glare from the window made it difficult to see, especially in the distance, but if you look closely you can still distinctly see the tail sticking out of the water.


Wikipedia’s Multimedia Push

Wikipedia is gearing up for a bigger multimedia push. It’s text based data is rather solid as the world knows, but media wise it’s most photos and even in that respect isn’t as well covered as it could be.

An even bigger concern is what format should this all be stored in so that this data is still relevant and useful in 10 years or more. I don’t see a problem with reading JPEG, MPEG2, MPEG4, MP3, in the next 10 years though I do wonder if some of the lesser known formats might disappear from computing. While I like Ogg Vorbis, it hasn’t really proven itself in my mind that it can penetrate and achieve enough market share for people to care about it in several years. VP6 (used in Flash prior to H.264) will likely be available assuming On2 Technologies is still around or the patent expired (no idea when that is).

One thing that strikes me is that it would really be ideal for it to partner with Internet Archive. They have already started the efforts to document and digitalize lots of media. While Internet Archive’s main goal is to archive, while Wikipedia is to “freely share in the sum of all knowledge”, it seems that there is still significant common ground.

That said, as the Internet itself becomes the record for many things in Wikipedia, the Internet Archive’s WayBackMachine may also become a relevant common ground.

Apple Mozilla

3rd Party Web Browsers For iPhone

There’s some buzz around the web regarding 3rd party web browsers for the iPhone now appearing in the App Store. This really isn’t as good as it sounds. In fact, it’s misleading. From what I can tell they are all using WebKit (Safari) API’s. UIWebView to be specific. These are just applications that serve as an alternative UI for WebKit.

This isn’t even totally new as there are several apps that have done this in the past, the most popular being Twitterrific who ships a “mini-browser” for the purpose of viewing links in tweets without leaving the application. What’s new is that an application’s sole purpose can be a browser. Though there’s no official word on a policy that I know of.

That means no you will not see Java, you will not see Flash, you will not see Firefox. You may perhaps see some user experience improvements which of course are welcome, but not another “browser”.

Around The Web Audio/Video Funny On Jeopardy

Fark On Jeopardy

I’ve been reading for several years now. Seeing that it was featured on Jeopardy (again) is extremely amusing. VentureBeat even managed to get a quote on it from Drew.


The Future Of Tablet Computing & Netbooks

Two of the biggest buzzwords in mobile computing right now (besides iPhone and Android) are Tablet Computing and Netbooks. Many people expect one of them to be the successor to laptops. I don’t think it will be quite that simple.

Tablet Computing

Modern tablet computing designs are really all based on Allan Kay’s 1968 Dynabook design. While never constructed, it’s almost obvious design has influenced many companies to make desktops and laptops that are controlled via a touchscreen. PDA’s and smartphones also follow this basic design closely, though I wouldn’t really consider these devices to be tablet computers.

A few laptops manufacturers offer a tablet variant of a laptop. One of the most popular is Lenovo’s X Series. It’s a regular laptop minus some modifications to allow for a touch display and a special hinge system. All the power of a laptop with the convenience (and cool factor) of a touch screen.

The downsides of this are obvious. Laptops aren’t that light, they are power hungry and have moving parts (hard drives in particular). They also don’t come cheap.


Netbooks have gained considerable ground in the past year. A netbook is really no different than a typical laptop except it’s smaller, lighter, more power efficient (thanks to a slower power efficient cpu and smaller screen) and cheaper. By focusing on a handful of terminal activities such as browsing the web and email they can scale back on most of the fancy hardware.

One of the most popular Netbooks is the ASUS Eee PC. It’s advantages over a typical laptop are it’s low cost, small size, and weight.

The downsides here are speed, small screen and small keyboard.

The Merge

CPU’s have advanced significantly in the past few years. One of the most obvious changes is multiple cores. Another less obvious but equally important evolution is power efficiency thanks to a new breed of chips like the Intel Atom.

Touchscreens have gotten significantly better. The most obvious is the iPhone’s capacitive touchscreen. As opposed to resistive touchscreens and a stylus the ability to handle multitouch revolutionizes the interface.

Solid State Storage (SSD) has also dropped in price and increased in availability. This means that storage is faster, consumes less power and more reliable in a mobile device than previous hard drive technology would allow.

Users have also evolved in computer usage. Several years ago almost everyone used an email client. Now many are using webmail only thanks to improved interfaces. Even spreadsheets and office documents can be handled with a web interface. The need for client side computing is becoming less of a necessity for many people. Wireless networks have only sped this up.

I suspect that due to these current trends tablets and netbooks will blur and move towards a new category of ultraportable computing. Obviously just small evolutionary changes could drastically change this but that’s how I interpret the current trends.

Apple today offers laptops with dual GPU’s to save power and allow for higher performance by selecting the GPU. I suspect it’s even possible to eventually see dual CPU’s where one could be selected for performance, and another for better power consumption (great for when just browsing the web).

I suspect the rumor of an Apple tablet coming Q3 will fall largely along these lines and accelerate the merge between tablet computing and netbooks. Time will tell.

Audio/Video Funny

Baby Got Back – Gilbert & Sullivan Style

Baby Got Back - Gilbert & Sullivan Style

Here’s a very well done rendition of “Baby Got Back” performed Gilbert & Sullivan style.

Previously I’ve mentioned Jonathan Coulton’s acoustic version.

Hardware Mozilla

Palm Pre Thoughts

The big news today seems to be the new Palm Pre. It’s a rather beautiful device, though I’m not sure it will save Palm.

  • Developer API – Palm choose to make it literally a “WebOS” (that’s what they call it). Applications are written using HTML5, CSS, JS (via WebKit) and there are API’s to access a variety of services. While cool this does have a big downside. There’s no real way to make it into the gaming platform that the iPhone is becoming. <canvas/> can only take you so far animation wise, not to mention JS isn’t really an ideal language to make a full length game. These applications are essentially widgets. That’s fine for many/most mobile apps, but not all. It also doesn’t allow you to take advantage of 3rd party libraries that aren’t on the device or written in JS.
  • Development Community – Palm is going to have a tough time building a dedicated development community. There will be lots of “widgets” ported to the device, but with the iPhone being mandatory for hot new apps, Android showing lots of potential and backing, and BackBerry being ubiquitous, how many more platforms can developers target in this economy? There’s also Windows Mobile with an established user base. They will need to sell a lot of devices to attract developers.
  • Many Features Easily Duplicated – It has copy/paste, MMS, IM, and other things many people gripe about the iPhone not having. That said, they can be implemented in a software upgrade on the iPhone leveling out the playing field quickly. Hardware wise, the removable battery and 3MP camera can’t be easily duplicated. Those are solid enhancements.
  • Background Applications – Since it’s WebOS, the “applications” are nothing more than tabs in a browser. Application switching is then nothing more than switching tabs. How will this behave in real life? Hard to say. I’m hoping each “application” is isolated into it’s own process similar to Google Chrome rather than one process. I’m not sure how they balance CPU time between competing processes.
  • Battery Life – I can’t find much on battery life. I presume that depends on application usage but it’s not prominent on the Palm site or any review I’ve seen so far.

I should note that since it’s API is essentially building widgets using web technologies, don’t expect to see a Mozilla browser anytime soon. The closest you’d get is a Fennec-like UI built on and around WebKit. It could prove to be an interesting UI experiment, but it won’t share the same technologies.

It’s ironic but so far Windows, Android and BlackBerry are the only major mobile OS’s that allow 3rd party applications to be downloaded directly to the device unrestricted. Maemo does as well, but it’s more internet tablets. iPhone while based on open source require you go through a proprietary app store. Both the iPhone and Android have a kill switch so that they can terminate software that doesn’t abide by their policies. Palm (also based on open source Linux) won’t even allow true native applications so far.

It’s a cool device, but I wouldn’t declare Palm back from the dead yet, nor would I declare them dead. Like I said, it’s competing with 3 mega platforms for not only users, but developers whose applications will bring in users.

Update [1/9/2009 @ 9:45 AM EST]:Clarified App store requirement is for iPhone and that a kill switch exists on both the iPhone and Android.

Apple Audio/Video Funny

David Pogue Medley

David Pogue Piano Medley

As promised, here’s a medley David Pogue did at the TED Conference regarding online music. Enjoy.


MWSF 2009

This post is going to be a bit shorter than previous years. There’s really not that much to say here. I’ve been following MacWorld for the past decade or so, even before coverage was very good (now pretty much everything is live). Overall I’d rate this one a 5.

Phil Schiller

Phil did a decent job filling in for Jobs. It did sound slightly like the script was either written for Jobs, or he was trying to sound like Jobs. I’m not sure which. Overall he did pretty good. He’s not Steve Jobs, and expecting him to live up to that is not practical. He did better than most executives do at these events. It was obvious he worked with people who assist Jobs, and likely even got input from Jobs.


A lot of software was released: iLife ’09, iWorks ’09. A few things impressed me, most of it was really not that remarkable. The camera stabilization stuff in iMovie will be welcomed by many, assuming it performs as well as it’s demoed. They didn’t say how well it will do with sub-SD (below standard definition) cameras like cell phones which are becoming increasingly popular. Facial detection in iPhoto is also pretty cool. The precision editor is also something that many people will be happy to see. I never saw GarageBand as more than an novelty app, so I’m not to wowed by the changes.

I’m not sure what to think of this Mac Box Set. The price is decent, but I think almost anyone who is interested in upgrading iLife and iWorks already has Mac OS X 10.5. Those that don’t either don’t care about the latest and greatest features (that’s most of them), or can’t because they use something else that doesn’t work with 10.5. Regardless, I’m not sure how many will really appreciate Mac OS X 10.5 being in the bundle.

17″ MacBook Pro

The 17″ MacBook Pro was obvious since it was a glaring omission last time Apple released the new MacBooks. I’m curious to see the dissection pictures that someone will post over the next few days to see that battery up close. While not “removable” I hope it’s “serviceable” so that you can buy a 3rd party battery online and install it yourself if you don’t want spend so much money and time having Apple do it. Don’t let 1,000 charges fool you. 1,000 charges is actually pretty good, many laptop batteries don’t fair to well at that amount.

The $50 anti-glare option is totally worth it. It’s a shame they don’t offer that on the other models. I think it would be a popular upgrade. I’m not a fan of the glossy displays as I find the matte displays much easier on the eyes.


DRM free finally. That’s not a free upgrade though, it will cost you $0.30 per song. No word what percentage of that Apple gets, and what percentage goes to the record labels.

Pricing is now tiered to $0.69, $0.99, and $1.29. Lastly you can now download music over the 3G network on the iPhone. You can also download over EDGE, but that’s unadvertised. I presume the 10MB limit doesn’t apply to purchased music as it does to podcasts and apps, but I’m not sure.

Missing iPhone Firmware Update

Apple promised push messaging would launch in September 2008. Now January 2009 and there’s no word on a completion date. I previously suspected Apple would at least comment on this delay in hopes of keeping customers and developers from getting to go nuts. Push messaging was being seeded to select developers in the summer. It was originally in the iPhone OS 2.1 beta update but pulled before it went final. It’s allegedly still in the works. John Grubber notes that there haven’t been betas of 2.3, which suggests that the next version will be iPhone OS 3.0. That could still be months away. This could get interesting. Hack

It was obvious they got hacked ASAP. It was also pretty obvious that it was some folks at 4chan pretty quickly.


Lots of software, predictable hardware. This was an evolutionary keynote rather than a revolutionary one. There’s a lot of stuff Apple is overdue to update including the Mac Mini which is painfully outdated, Apple TV, iPhone OS among other things. There’s also Snow Leopard which hasn’t been shown off to much yet.

It wasn’t the keynote itself that was a bore, it was the product lineup wasn’t that of previous years. It’s not to say they are bad products, but that they aren’t revolutionary must-have products.

Apple Audio/Video Funny

David Pogue Plays “Imagine” And “My Way”

David Pogue Piano

Here’s a little gem. New York Times tech columnist David Pogue. There’s two songs nested in this video you’ll likely want to check out. Use the links below to go right to the songs and skip the talk:

  1. Imagine – Pogue does a little parody of John Lennon’s “Imagine”.
  2. My Way – Pogue does a little parody of Paul Anka’s “My Way” (known by most for being performed by Frank Sinatra). For the record Paul Anka is still dead to me after his Nirvana cover.

There’s also the music video for the “My Way” parody “I want an iPhone“.

For those who don’t know, in a previous live David Pogue spent some time on Broadway on the music side of things.

Nice way to start off MacWorld week right? I’ve got another for later in the week.

[Hat tip: Gizmodo]