31 Dec

Rough Type – Same shit, different medium

What you see depends on where you stand, and from one viewpoint – a high one – Poe is absolutely correct. He puts his finger on a tragicomic fundamental of human existence: Whenever we come upon a wild new frontier, we jump up and down and say we’re going to restart history, and then we proceed to do exactly what we always do: build houses, shops, brothels, bars, gaming emporiums, churches. And then more shops. Modern electronic media, from this view, simply allow us to do all the same stuff with less physical effort. Lots of big boxes collapse into one small box, but the contents of the box remains the same.

The problem with a high vantage point is that you can’t see the details, and if you stand there long enough you begin to believe that the details don’t matter. But the details do matter. The texture of our lives is determined not only by what we do but by how we do it. And that’s where media play such an important part: they change the how. Which is what Poe misses. Just as the dishwasher (along with the washing machine, the vacuum cleaner, and all manner of other electrified household appliance) altered in profound ways the rhythms and roles of home life during the last century, so the internet changes, in ways small and large, everything it subsumes. The same shit, when routed through a different medium, becomes new shit.

via Rough Type – Same shit, different medium. I love that last sentence it defines very precisely how the medium is an important factor in differences existing while the high level appears to be the same.

31 Dec

The Washington Post – One tip enough to put name on watch list

The failure to put Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab on the watch list last year renewed concerns that the government’s system to screen out potential terrorists was flawed. Even though Abdulmutallab’s father had told U.S. officials of his son’s radicalization in Yemen, government rules dictated that a single-source tip was insufficient to include a person’s name on the watch list.

Since then, senior counterterrorism officials say they have altered their criteria so that a single-source tip, as long as it is deemed credible, can lead to a name being placed on the watch list.

The government’s master watch list is one of roughly a dozen lists, or databases, used by counterterrorism officials. Officials have periodically adjusted the criteria used to maintain it.

But civil liberties groups argue that the government’s new criteria, which went into effect over the summer, have made it even more likely that individuals who pose no threat will be swept up in the nation’s security apparatus, leading to potential violations of their privacy and making it difficult for them to travel.

via The Washington Post – One tip enough to put name on watch list. Another in a long list of stupid over-reactions that does really nothing but close the door after the horse is out.

31 Dec

Jeffrey Zeldman Presents The Daily Report – 2010: The Year in Web Standards

WHAT A YEAR 2010 has been. It was the year HTML5 and CSS3 broke wide; the year the iPad, iPhone, and Android led designers down the contradictory paths of proprietary application design and standards-based mobile web application design—in both cases focused on user needs, simplicity, and new ways of interacting thanks to small screens and touch-sensitive surfaces.

via Jeffrey Zeldman Presents The Daily Report – 2010: The Year in Web Standards. What a year indeed for web design and web standards.

30 Dec

Seth’s Blog – Sadly stuck with the status quo

I know, I know, this is a rant. But it’s a rant with a point:

Fill in your own forms. Make your executives do it. Watch customers do it. See what your competitors are using. Improve the form. Don’t use pull down menus for more than 12 choices unless there really is no choice.

"Good enough" is a hard call, but I think we can agree that most online forms, aren’t.

via Seth’s Blog – Sadly stuck with the status quo. Easily the best way to improve customer facing aspects of a company is for top executives to have go through all of what you expect your customers to do.

30 Dec

Jessica Hische – mom, this is how twitter works

Twitter is an online social networking tool in which users post 140 character updates of what is going on in their lives along with links to things they think are interesting, funny, or useful to their followers (“following” being essentially what “friending” is on other sites). People use twitter in many ways, some as a newsfeed by following prominent people or networks, some as a psuedo-chatroom by limiting their followers and whom they follow to close friends and family, and some as a microblog for updating people about the work they are doing and their personal lives.

via Jessica Hische – mom, this is how twitter works. I wish I wrote this it’s that good.

27 Dec

Electronista – RIM thought iPhone was impossible in 2007

RIM had a complete internal panic when Apple unveiled the iPhone in 2007, a former employee revealed this weekend. The BlackBerry maker is now known to have held multiple all-hands meetings on January 10 that year, a day after the iPhone was on stage, and to have made outlandish claims about its features. Apple was effectively accused of lying as it was supposedly impossible that a device could have such a large touchscreen but still get a usable lifespan away from a power outlet.

via Electronista – RIM thought iPhone was impossible in 2007. That seems both really odd to me and explains my RIM is struggling to grow in the cell phone business.

22 Dec

A Guide to the Open Internet

Network neutrality is the idea that your cellular, cable, or phone internet connection should treat all websites and services the same. Big companies like AT&T, Verion, and Comcast want to treat them differently so they can charge you more depending on what you use.

The Federal Communications Commision (FCC) is currently debating legislation to define limits for internet service providers (ISPs). The hope is that they will keep the internet open and prevent companies from discriminating against different kinds of websites and services.

via A Guide to the Open Internet. Just in case you need a good solid pointer to over the holiday breaks as to why Net Neutrality is important and what it really means.

22 Dec

St. Clair Software Blog – Replacing Apple Downloads with the Mac App Store

As a long-time Apple developer (I’ve been doing this since 1988) I’ve become accustomed to changes in direction, forced rewrites as Apple has adopted or invented new technologies, and sometimes capricious decision making on Apple’s part. As in the past, I’ll deal with what comes my way and work to keep my business healthy, but shutting down a primary traffic source for our web site is going to make things quite a bit more difficult.

In your letter, you say “the Mac App Store will be the best destination for users to discover, purchase, and download your apps,” but that doesn’t apply to my two best-selling applications, nor to those of many other developers. The guidelines put in place for the Mac App Store disqualify Default Folder X and App Tamer from inclusion in the App Store, despite their popularity and utility. I’m left to reinvent my products and company (again) as they don’t fit Apple’s vision of what a Mac application should be. There are numerous developers in my position. We make useful – some would say essential – products that users will now have a more difficult time finding as Apple drives customers and market focus to the Mac App Store.

via St. Clair Software Blog – Replacing Apple Downloads with the Mac App Store. It’s almost hard reading the line about having to re-invent his company and products to fit Apple’s vision. It’s a good reason not to develop desktop applications for the Mac.

22 Dec

Organization of American States – Joint Statement On Wikileaks

In light of ongoing developments related to the release of diplomatic cables by the organization Wikileaks, and the publication of information contained in those cables by mainstream news organizations, the United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Opinion and Expression and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression see fit to recall a number of international legal principles. The rapporteurs call upon States and other relevant actors to keep these principles in mind when responding to the aforementioned developments.

via Organization of American States – Joint Statement On Wikileaks. On the plus side the UN and OAS came out pretty strongly in favor of Wikileaks and support of freedom for access to information.

22 Dec

Electronic Frontier Foundation – Wikileaks Mirror Taken Down: Host Buckles Under Demands from Upstream Provider

If this sounds like a lame excuse, that’s because it is a lame excuse. It’s incredibly disappointing to see more service providers cutting off customers simply because they decide (or fear) that content is too volatile or unpopular to host. And the runaround that this user received from his host and its upstream provider demonstrates the broader problems with the lack of any real transparency or process around such important decisions.

Internet intermediaries — whether directly in contract with their users or further up the chain — need to stick up for their customers, not undermine their freedom to speak online. As we’ve said before, your speech online is only as free as the weakest intermediary.

via Electronic Frontier Foundation – Wikileaks Mirror Taken Down: Host Buckles Under Demands from Upstream Provider. It’s sad when we can’t even trust companies that we pay to stick up for our rights. Perhaps even worse it’s over a hypothetical future action, not current or past actions.