31 May

Smashing Magazine – Ten Oddities And Secrets About JavaScript

JavaScript. At once bizarre and yet beautiful, it is surely the programming language that Pablo Picasso would have invented. Null is apparently an object, an empty array is apparently equal to false, and functions are bandied around as though they were tennis balls.

This article is aimed at intermediate developers who are curious about more advanced JavaScript. It is a collection of JavaScript’s oddities and well-kept secrets. Some sections will hopefully give you insight into how these curiosities can be useful to your code, while other sections are pure WTF material. So, let’s get started

via Smashing Magazine – Ten Oddities And Secrets About JavaScript. JavaScript is easily one of the weirdest languages to have gained such usefulness.

19 May

Shawn Blanc – Cloudy With a Chance of Music

I have nothing but good things to say about the quality of Rdio’s service, its price, or its music collection. However, there is something about Rdio that just doesn’t settle for me. And I think it’s the fact that I’m listening to music I don’t own.

A lot of people have been championing for music the trend which began with movies so many years ago: that access is better than ownership. This is Netflix’s bag: rent all the movies you want, whenever you want, for one low monthly fee.

It’s the same idea with Rdio — you are, in a sense, “renting” an album. Though you never have to return it, so long as you keep paying your monthly dues.

However, I have a different attitude towards movies than I do towards music. I will maybe watch my favorite movies once or twice a year, at the most. A great album that I love I will listen to every day for months and months.

Movies are entertaining. Music is personal.

And so I don’t know if the paradigm that access is better than ownership has the same effect on our music library as it does for our DVD collection. The music we listen to, in many ways, is a definition and extension of who we are.

All this to say, that what excites me right now is the idea of access and ownership. I want to own my music, but I want to have it available anywhere and everywhere and on each of the music-playing devices that I own.

via Shawn Blanc – Cloudy With a Chance of Music. Totally agree, that’s exactly why I stopped using Pandora and Rdio for as much as people rave about both services. Ownership and total control over the experience is almost paramount for how I listen to music.

15 May

Timeless – JSON: The JavaScript subset that isn’t

Because of these two invisible Unicode characters, JSON is not a subset of JavaScript. Close, but no cigar.

In most applications, you won’t notice this issue. First of all, the line separator and the paragraph separator isn’t exactly widely used. Secondly, any proper JSON parser will have no problems with parsing it.

However, when you’re dealing with JSONP there’s no way around: You’re forced to use the JavaScript parser in the browser. And if you’re sending data that other have entered, a tiny U+2028 or U+2029 might sneak in and break your pretty cross-domain API.

via Timeless – JSON: The JavaScript subset that isn’t. Wikipedia is wrong man.

13 May

Signal vs. Noise – It just doesn’t matter

Would these things be nice to have? Sure. Would they be great to have? Sure. Would they be cool to have? You bet. But do they really matter? Nope. And that’s why we left them out.

The best designers and the best programmers aren’t the ones with the best skills, or the nimblest fingers, or the ones who can rock and roll with photoshop or vim, they are the ones that can determine what just doesn’t matter. That’s where the real gains are made.

via Signal vs. Noise – It just doesn’t matter. Totally true, the user experience should focus on making what matters better not on adding in features that don’t add anything.

13 May

The Official Google Code Blog – Making money with Google In-App Payments for the Web

Today at Google I/O, we launched the developer API of Google In-App Payments for the web. In-App Payments enables any web application to receive payments from users and keep them engaged in your application. It is available to all US developers in sandbox today and will be followed by a consumer launch and an international rollout over the summer.

via The Official Google Code Blog – Making money with Google In-App Payments for the Web. The most interesting part of this is the 5% fee, most payment services charge 2-3%, so double that for Google to cover their hosting costs and such and it seems pretty reasonable. Here is where it gets interesting this puts Apple at a distinct dis-advantage. Apple charges 30% on everything (purchase an app, music, in-app purchases, etc). For ebook readers this creates a non-existent business model due to the agency model that publishers now require all books sold to recieve 70% of the purchase price (ie not wholesale price but what the customer actually paid). So 30% to Apple and 70% to the publisher means nothing get’s left over for the middle-person. That 70% cut could be argued as a problem, but the publisher is one paying for the advertising, development and writing of the book itself, 70% seems like an acceptable cut.

Google is really demonstrating what seems like the fairer margin for the service that serves, stores, builds the store, etc. Apples cut feels too high. Apple does valuable work and important work and it’s a fair argument that without all of Apple’s work there wouldn’t even be this store or platform for developers and publishers to sell their content. But the margin that Apple takes doesn’t seem right, especially when looking at e-books. Etsy is a great example of where the fees seem much more realistic, 20 cents per item listed and 3.5% sales fee. There is a business model that is working and doing much the same as Apple currently is with their App Store. Apple’s cut is so out of portion to everything else comparable is the real problem.

I’ll agree that this is defiantly a subjective claim as it’s hard to state what is and isn’t a viable or reasonable business model, and certainly Apple can charge a 30% or 5% or 90% fee and they are within their rights to do so. The argument can also be made, that a business shouldn’t bet their model on Apple treating them fairly cause that’s never a good idea, Apple defiantly does what is right for Apple. However if Apple doesn’t change their stance I can defiantly see Amazon just pulling out of the App Store and launching their service as a web app. It’s not the best solution for them, but it’s better than Apple taking every penny they make on e-books, especially when the competing smartphone platform takes only 5%.

11 May

Clickable Bliss Blog – iAd Policy Change: No more kid-focused apps

And that’s how an iAd supported version of Dex died. No warning, no notice and inevitably no respect to the developers who have cenetered their app’s revenue model around the iAd platform.

Apple should target their ads better. I would have loved to have seen some ads that were better suited to kids in Dex. It’s a shame they don’t have the inventory to do so. However the manner in which they’ve made this policy change just stinks.

Furthermore there is no documentation of this change. Nothing is on the iAd developer page to alert people that the current fill rate for apps and games targeted at kids is zero.

As for what will come of Dex, in the short term it will remain the same: a free download, showing ads (now only from AdMob network) with an in-app purchase to show support and turn off ads. For the future, Dex will have to move to a normal pay per download model or lock some of the major features behind the in-app pay wall and continue to give out basic functionality for free. I’m leaning toward the latter but won’t make a decision until I’ve finished shipping my new iOS game TwizShow, which until recently was going to show iAds.

Today was another harsh reminder we iPhone developers are making a living at the beck and whim of a powerful platform vender. Be careful putting all your eggs in his basket.

via Clickable Bliss Blog – iAd Policy Change: No more kid-focused apps. I can totally understand Apple wanting to pull iAds from apps targeted towards children, however that has to really hurt app developers as apps targeting kids are probably most often ad-supported business models.

10 May

NYTimes.com – Google’s Digital Music Service Falls Short of Ambition

But the service that the company unveiled on Tuesday, called Music Beta by Google, fell short of those ambitions. There is no store, the streaming function comes with restrictions, and, like Amazon’s Cloud Drive service announced in March, using it requires a long upload process.What came between Google and its ambitions was an obstacle familiar to many digital music start-ups: despite months of negotiations, the company could not obtain licenses from the major record companies.In interviews, Google executives put the blame squarely on the labels. “Generally there were demands on the business side that we think were unreasonable and don’t enable us to have a sustainable, scalable music business,” said Zahavah Levine, director of content partnerships for Google’s Android unit and the lead negotiator with the labels.Music Beta was introduced on Tuesday at Google I/O, a developers’ conference in San Francisco.

via NYTimes.com – Google’s Digital Music Service Falls Short of Ambition. This doesn’t bode well for what we all really want, stream our already owned music collection without having to upload it, wonder if Apple will have any better luck with the record labels.

08 May

Throwing Fire – LastPass Disclosure Shows Why We Can’t Have Nice Things

LastPass announced nothing more than that their recent statistics looked strange, and because of that they wanted to stay on the safe side just in case there was a breach—although that was unlikely—and the press responded exactly as it would if LastPass had been caught trying to cover up a definite leak.

(In the worst case scenario, a breach of LastPass’ data would reveal nothing more than master password hashes that are virtually uncrackable if the original password has just minimal complexity. Everything else, including information about individual websites and passwords, would be nothing more than an encrypted blob, the contents of which are inaccessible without the original password.)

You can argue if it’s wise to store your passwords online, but at least treat the few companies who act right right.

By acting the way they were supposed to, LastPass only hurt themselves — and that’s why we can’t have nice things.

via Throwing Fire – LastPass Disclosure Shows Why We Can’t Have Nice Things. Even the technology journalism sites can’t get things right on occasion.