April 13, 2014

Tim Cook’s Lifetime Achievement Award from Auburn University

Much respect, Tim. You can read more on the Auburn Web site.

April 12, 2014

Many thanks to Betterment for sponsoring this week’s RSS feed on The Loop. Imagine if poring over your finances were as easy as using your favorite app, or smartphone. – “The Apple of finance,” Quartz.

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Amazon has a tough row to hoe here. Wooing developers to a nascent market is never easy. Just ask Microsoft.

Amazon is working hard to flesh out a portfolio of key apps that will likely be crucial to its new smartphone’s success. That’s no easy task in a smartphone market dominated by two giant device-makers, Apple and Samsung, which together account for 60 percent of the phones currently in use in the U.S., according to research by the Yankee Group.

As with its Kindle Fire tablet, Amazon is building its phone with a modified version of Google’s Android OS. Sources said the company has been developing a mechanism to automatically translate existing Android apps to Amazon apps. But it hasn’t yet finished it. In the meantime, Amazon has been wooing app developers with offers of money, Amazon Web Services, development assistance, and the promise of potentially being preloaded onto the phone.

Perhaps the most interesting bit:

Another issue Amazon faces as it works to bring its first smartphone to market: Google, which has recently become stricter in its approach to Android and its app ecosystem. The company no longer gives forked Android sellers access to crucial phone features such as its maps, in-app purchases and notifications.

Some big problems to solve.

One person from a company that has decided for now not to take Amazon up on its offer to develop a smartphone app for the device’s launch expressed skepticism about building Amazon-specific wrappers and workarounds.

“I don’t know how they’ll differentiate with Samsung,” the source said. “There’s nothing really that different.”

This is really getting interesting.

The classic Kombi Volkswagen van is retired, makes final wish

The Kombi van was created in the 1940s and is an icon of the automotive industry. Called the “hippie van”, or the VW bus, the Kombi van has had a long colorful life. The last one rolled off the assembly line in Brasil at the end of last year.

The video below is a love letter from Kombi to the world. Fantastic.

Wall Street Journal:

The company’s new pilot program involves AdWords, its biggest advertising program, in which advertisers place links next to Internet-search results. Google gets paid when users click on an ad and visit the advertiser’s website.

But while tracking clicks is an effective way to measure a Web ad’s impact on online sales, the system breaks down when shoppers enter a physical store, where their behavior is harder to monitor.

“Clicks are just the beginning, and everyone knows that there’s more value to tying ads to purchases,” said Benny Arbel, chief executive of myThings, an advertising-technology company that works with Google but isn’t involved in the pilot program. “If Google can demonstrate that people did not just click on an ad but that they actually bought something, that is the Holy Grail.”

This will mean a big new source of revenue for Google and a wealth of new data they will be able to collect about their users’ habits.

April 11, 2014

A top Android executive testified on Friday that Google did not look to copy the iPhone when it designed Android.

“We like to have our own identity,” Android engineering VP Hiroshi Lockheimer said, testifying in an Apple-Samsung lawsuit currently before a jury in San Jose, Calif.

So before the iPhone, Android looked like the BlackBerry. After the iPhone, Android looked like iOS. Total fucking accident.

The company has recently been demonstrating versions of the handset to developers in San Francisco and Seattle. It intends to announce the device in June and ship to stores around the end of September, the newspaper cited the unidentified sources as saying.

This will throw a wrench into the smartphone market. There’s a lot of things we don’t know, like the hardware and which version of Android (I assume) it will use. I have a feeling it will be a low-priced phone, which will put more pressure on other Android handset makers than it will Apple.

I love this app. I’ve been using the beta for maybe a week and it’s solid, although features are still being added.

Be well Android people and make your way to an Apple store.

The Robservatory:

I use a lot of cloud services for file storage, primarily Dropbox, but also Box and (begrudgingly, for certain shared projects) Google Drive.

I also use iCloud, but not in any way that would be considered a true cloud file storage service. I use it strictly as a sync service for contacts, calendars, reminders, notes, Safari; I also use Back to My Mac.

But that’s it; I don’t use iCloud for cloud-based file management at all. Why not? Because iCloud in its current implementation is chock full of the stupid, at least for those of us who still use and rely on OS X.

When people say, “Apple doesn’t get Web Services”, this is a prime example of it.

Fast Company:

Steve Matteson has designed some of the most ubiquitous typefaces in the world, and engineered the original core fonts for Microsoft, adapting Times New Roman, Arial, and Courier, which you’ve probably used for term papers or resumes or anything else you wrote in Word. He has also created some less-classic designs that he’s not too proud of, such as “Curlz,” which falls in the Comic Sans camp of typefaces reserved for high school yearbooks, princess-themed birthday party invitations, and mockery.

But that is the plight of a professional font designer: One day you get to make lasting letter sets, the next you have to pay the bills. “Sometimes you have to do work that you’re not really proud of,” Matteson told Fast Company. “That’s why we call it work instead of play.”

I know literally nothing about fonts – I couldn’t point out Geneva if you put a gun to my head – but the process is endlessly fascinating to me.

Motörhead: Ace Of Spades

Enjoy your Friday people.

Read the linked comic, then take a read of the How it works post from a few days ago. The XKCD comic is basically showing a series of GET requests and what happens when the requested data size doesn’t match the actual data size.

Asking a user for permission to send them push notifications or to access their private data can be a little bit of a minefield.

For many apps, not getting access to a phone’s sensors or data can change the entire user experience. For example, if an app depends on where the user is standing, declining access to location could render the app useless. More subtly, if push notifications play a critical role in getting your user to form a habit of using your app, declined access could lead to you losing them forever.

Making it all worse is that when a user taps “Don’t Allow”, there is no easy way for them to reverse that decision.

If you are interested in user interface/experience, this is some good food for thought. [Via iOS Dev Weekly]

A nasty surprise when the Amazon Web Services send you an email to update your credit card info to handle the charges.

This week we learned, thanks to a February 2012 internal Samsung document marked “top secret” and unearthed by Apple as part of its ongoing patent infringement proceedings, that we were right and those more credulous news outlets were wrong.

When Strategy Analytics was telling the world that Samsung sold 2 million Galaxy Tabs in six weeks, the truth was that it took Samsung all of 2011 to sell half that many.

Lying, cheating, bastards.

April 10, 2014

Joe Cocker: You Are So Beautiful

I just love Joe’s voice.

An interesting article by Peter Cohen on whether OS X should get more of a flat design. It makes sense to me.

This is one of my favorite apps of all time.

Next Tuesday, April 15th at 6am PDT, we’re opening up some spots in the Glass Explorer Program. Any adult in the US* can become an Explorer by visiting our site and purchasing Glass for $1500 + tax – and it now comes with your favorite shade or frame, thanks to feedback from our current Explorers. The number of spots available is limited, so mark your calendar if you want to get in.

Don’t do it.

“Apple takes security very seriously. IOS and OS X never incorporated the vulnerable software and key Web-based services were not affected,” an Apple spokesperson told Re/code.

Great news.

Amazon.com today announced that it has reached an agreement to acquire comiXology, the company that revolutionized the digital comics reading experience with their immersive Guided View technology and makes discovering, buying, and reading comic books and graphic novels easier and more fun than ever before.

Nautilus:

The light that a city emits is like its glowing fingerprint. From the orderly grid of Manhattan, to the sprawling, snaking streets of Milan, to the bright contrast of Kuwait’s ring-roads, each city leaves its own pattern of tiny glowing dots. See if you can ID these cities based on the way they shine.

I got 13 out of 16 right but I definitely guessed on at least three of them.

Bee Gees: Stayin’ Alive

Yeah, I posted it.

The Fender Passport EVENT with Bluetooth® connectivity is a self-contained portable audio system that includes everything you need for great sound anywhere you go. Carry your Passport as you would a suitcase, and simply flip open the cabinet release latches when you’re ready to set it up. Inside you’ll discover two full-range speaker cabinets, a powered mixer, a microphone and all the cables you’ll need to get started.

Fender also announced a new Passport Venue.

This guy is an asshole.

[Via BGR]

Slash’s solo albums have been great. I can’t wait to hear the new release.

I really like the tone of Engl amps. I’ll be getting these amp and cabinet models.

I just loved this essay about banning “feigned surprise”, a pretty common response in the programming universe.

“Feigned surprise” (when someone gasps and says something like: “you don’t even know about monads?”) is a method of belittling someone and lording your superiority over them.

As a writer, I try to assume that anything that might be puzzling to me might be puzzling to the reader. A piece of information that I find interesting and, at least at some point in the recent past, was new to me, might be new and interesting to the reader. That new information is a gift to me, one that I absolutely love to share with the reader. Feigned surprise is the enemy of that gift.

Here’s a link to hacker school, mentioned in the linked essay, in case you are interested.

Follow the link to the site, then type in your favorite URL. The site will attempt to send the malformed Heartbeat request to your URL and report on what comes back.

For example, if you enter amazon.com, it will come back and say “All good, amazon.com seems fixed or unaffected!”

I tested a number of sites and found some that were straight-out susceptible and others that responded with messages such as “timeout” or “broken pipe”. To see what these mean, read the FAQ.

Big thanks to Filippo Valsorda for creating the test.