October snow

It never happens. 4 times in NYC recorded weather history. But it happened this weekend. I have pictures and everything. But it’s gonna have to wait until all the services get turned back on.

Update: It’s now November 2nd and we still have no connectivity. I’m working where I can get a reliable connection and some quiet, and while I do I thought I’d upload some stuff. Here’s a flickr set of a bunch of photos from Sunday after the storm.


User-led RSS advocacy

User-led RSS advocacy:

A picture named loveRss.jpgIf you’re a regular reader of this blog, take a few moments and read this manifesto by actress Felicia Day about the importance of supporting RSS. She says that some sources are turning off their feeds. I was not aware of this. I subscribe to new feeds all the time, and rarely do I find a source that updates regularly that doesn’t have one. I think I’d notice.

But what’s reallly cool about this is that passionate and intelligent advocacy is coming from users. For me, that’s new. And very welcome. I’ve felt like the only person who’s willing to stick his neck out of the idea that we could have news flows that were not controlled by the tech industry. I was told that users would never understand why this is important. Well, looks like the people who said that were wrong.

This happens regularly in the tech industry, as I’ve written about so often. In the early days of a technology, in this case news feeds, users need training wheels on their tools. But a few years later, they understand how it works, and they can see how they’re being controlled. Shortly after that they break free of the bonds and a new layer of tech comes online.

If you’re a developer, it seems now is a good time to take a fresh look at building networks of news flow that doesn’t run exclusively through Google, Twitter or Facebook. There is an architecture possible here, built on formats and protocols we all know well. XML, JSON, HTTP, DNS. All of it lightweight and easily cloned for lots of choice for users.

But at least read Ms Day’s screed. :-)

Source: Scripting News

O’Keefe vs. Rosen, Shirky

O’Keefe stings Rosen, Shirky: My thoughts: It’s okay to go undercover and publish the result if you actually caught someone doing something inappropriate. Based on what I know about journalism classes, and what Clay does (there’s only one quote from Jay in the 10-minute video) he did what guest lecturers do, give their opinions on the topics of the day. This kind of stuff goes on in J-schools everywhere, every day, with people of all political persuasions.

[The first problem I have with this is with the first few seconds of video where the word “caught” is used. Dave in his piece used the word “stings” which might be closer. But certainly the word caught implies that either one of the subjects of the piece were doing something wrong. That’s the kinda of crappy journalism we can expect from the next generation, who are busy trying to make a name for themselves pointing out the supposed flaws of the previous generation. It’s all a terrible loop.]
Source: Scripting News

Two less cables

Two less cables: Services like Hulu Plus and Netflix streaming have a huge problem getting content, and I continue to think that this is in no small part because they vastly underprice their services—which they do because consumers continue to decide how much they’re willing to pay for content based not on the content itself but on the delivery mechanism. If you watch a dozen shows and pay $120 a month for HD cable, you’re paying around $2.50 per episode. An iTunes season pass for a 24-episode show in HD is probably going to be about $45, or $1.88 an episode. Yet consumer behavior suggests we think iTunes is the service that’s priced unreasonably.*

I wrote a few months ago that I doubted you could do a streaming service that was really capable of supplanting cable or satellite unless it was at least $30 a month, and that’s probably including ads. I don’t think Netflix or Hulu could ask that kind of price and have a snowball’s chance in hell of succeeding. I doubt even Amazon could.

[Lisa and I were discussing the math of cable just last night. Generally it doesn’t provide the value you think it does. It’s worth looking at what you use cable for… you might be able to drop it.]
Source: Coyote Tracks

Steve Jobs « The New Adventures of Stephen Fry

Steve Jobs « The New Adventures of Stephen Fry: It was a large and popular conference and Tim was pretty much at the end of the line of black NeXt boxes. Each developer showed Steve Jobs their new word-processor, graphic programme and utility and he slowly walked along the line, like the judge at a flower show nodding his approval or frowning his distaste. Just before he reached Tim and the world wide web at the end of the row, an aide nudged Jobs and told him that they should go or he’d be in danger of missing his flight back to America. So Steve turned away and never saw the programme that Tim Berners-Lee had written which would change the world as completely as Gutenberg had in 1450. It was a meeting of the two most influential men of their time that never took place. Chatting to the newly knighted Sir Tim a few years ago he told me that he had still never actually met Steve Jobs.


He was also against adding apps to the iPhone

Steve Jobs biography: The new book doesn’t explain what made the Apple CEO tick. – Slate Magazine:

He was also against adding apps to the iPhone.

Some behavior that describes Steve my family and friends would certainly say sounds like me at times (to my regret). And with (ahem) brilliant insight points out that Steve was wrong about certain things (duh). But I really understand that he was against adding apps to the iPhone.

Sure, there’s lots of reasons why allowing apps was a good thing (in retrospect). I’ve certainly benefited from it in the sense that there are apps on my phone that Apple would never have created and that I love for their special use. But for the most part the core apps Phone, Contact, Safari, Camera, Music, etc. are the ones that get the most use. While my phone is more useful with folks creating great native apps, it would not have been significantly less useful as a phone the other way.

There would have been negative side effects—it’s a less interesting device if there isn’t a near constant stream of of “content” in the form of apps. The iPad would not have been nearly as successful, even if the plan was to allow others to write apps for it, because the iPhone app market bootstrapped developer knowledge.

My wife’s recent use of iPhone is teaching me how much “regular” people don’t know about iPhones, iOS, and apps. My parents use of an iPad us kids bought for them teaches me similar lessons. If you ain’t from the world of tech, you ain’t from the world of tech. Even so, everyone muddles through, each in our own way. And hopefully without extensive use of terms like “bozo”.

Roboto is a Four-headed Frankenfont

Roboto is a Four-headed Frankenfont: I’m all for the strategy of developing a unique identity typeface, and I commend Google for employing type designers in house, but this is an unwieldy mishmash. Roboto indeed has a mixed heritage, but that mix doesn’t have anything to do with the gibberish from the press release. Its parents are a Grotesk sans (like a slightly condensed Helvetica) and a Humanist sans (like Frutiger or Myriad). There’s nothing wrong with combining elements of these two styles to create something new. The crime is in the way they were combined: grabbing letters — almost wholesale — from the Grotesk model, along with a Univers-inspired ‘a’ and ‘G’, welding them to letters from the Humanist model, and then bolting on three straight-sided caps à la DIN.

[Nice rant.]
Source: Typographica