That’s just not what “is the new” means

I know I’m the last and prob­a­bly least sig­nif­i­cant per­son to weigh in on this, but this “Safari is the New IE” arti­cle that I did­n’t read when it came out three months ago has been tucked away in the back of my mind since then, and I’ve final­ly put my fin­ger on the sim­ple rea­son it both­ers me.

[M]y point was to com­pare Safari to IE in terms of 1) not keep­ing up with new stan­dards, 2) main­tain­ing a cul­ture of rel­a­tive secre­cy, and 3) play­ing a monop­o­lis­tic role, by not allow­ing oth­er ren­der­ing engines on iOS. Those accu­sa­tions are pret­ty unde­ni­able.


Per­son­al­ly what I want out of this whole debate is for Apple to real­ize that the web is start­ing to move on with­out them, and that their weird iso­la­tion­ism and glacial release cycle are not going to win them any favors in this new, dynam­ic web com­mu­ni­ty.

First of all, what does it mean to “be an Inter­net Explor­er”? What did Inter­net Explor­er rep­re­sent? A monop­oly, sure, to con­sumers and cor­po­rate attor­neys from the 1990s. “A cul­ture of rel­a­tive secre­cy”? Maybe, though that’s not what comes to my mind. It also had a blue icon and a six-syl­la­ble name, but these are acci­dents — they’re not what Inter­net Explor­er was.

What Inter­net Explor­er rep­re­sent­ed to web devel­op­ers, the bulk of that arti­cle’s audi­ence, is not a pop­u­lar brows­er lag­ging behind mod­ern stan­dards, but a pop­u­lar brows­er egre­gious­ly dis­obey­ing estab­lished stan­dards. There is no Safari equiv­a­lent (that I know of, and almost cer­tain­ly not as sig­nif­i­cant) as, say, IE’s dou­ble-mar­gin bug. Every web devel­op­er who’s wres­tled with IE has tear­ful­ly ref­er­enced Explor­er Exposed! and QuirksMode for the sixth time in a week, their links in Google’s results seem­ing an even deep­er pur­ple than oth­ers. Every web devel­op­er has har­bored a sense of loom­ing dread as they glee­ful­ly devel­op in Chrome and Fire­fox, know­ing that there will soon be the reck­on­ing of hav­ing to fix what­ev­er IE bugs they’re will­ful­ly ignor­ing, but for right now it feels so good not to have to write ter­ri­ble, hacky code to sup­port a ten-year-old brows­er, and maybe my boss will announce tomor­row that we offi­cial­ly don’t sup­port IE 6 any­more?

This, I think, is where the back­lash comes from. “Devel­op­ing for Safari” is bare­ly a thing. “Devel­op­ing for IE” was hell. To see the two com­pared in — yes — a click­baity way is mad­den­ing.

If Apple makes a watch

I don’t claim to be any kind of Apple pun­dit, but I have some hunch­es about what their watch will be like if and when they release one.

The two fac­tors I see as being vital are price and sim­plic­i­ty.


The Galaxy Gear starts at $299, which is a lot more, I think, than the aver­age per­son (i.e., non-Android zealots) are will­ing to spend on a watch that they have to charge every night. A suc­cess­ful watch, one that gets into the hands of mil­lions of peo­ple, will have to be clos­er to the “Apple impulse buy” price of the iPods Nano — at most $249, but I think they could do it for $199. (The Peb­ble E Ink watch is $150.) To reach that price point, an Apple watch will lack, for instance, a cam­era and a speak­er, which are includ­ed in the Galaxy Gear.

Con­tin­ue →

Random Really Drunk Guy

From Giz­mo­do:

The per­son who even­tu­al­ly end­ed up with the lost iPhone was sit­ting next to Pow­ell. He was drink­ing with a friend too. He noticed Pow­ell on the stool next to him but did­n’t think twice about him at the time. Not until Pow­ell had already left the bar, and a ran­dom real­ly drunk guy—who’d been sit­ting on the oth­er side of Powell—returned from the bath­room to his own stool.

The Ran­dom Real­ly Drunk Guy point­ed at the iPhone sit­ting on the stool, the pre­cious pro­to­type left by the young Apple engi­neer.

Hey man, is that your iPhone?” asked Ran­dom Real­ly Drunk Guy.

Hmmm, what?” replied the per­son who end­ed up with the iPhone. “No, no, it isn’t mine.”

Ooooh, I guess it’s your friend’s then,” refer­ring to a friend who at the time was in the bath­room. “Here, take it,” said the Ran­dom Real­ly Drunk Guy, hand­ing it to him. “You don’t want to lose it.” After that, the Ran­dom Real­ly Drunk Guy also left the bar.

I have a pret­ty strong sus­pi­cion that this “Real­ly Ran­dom Drunk Guy” is a fab­ri­ca­tion of the guy who found the iPhone — “I did­n’t pick it up; it was hand­ed to me.”

Macbook Wheel Predictive Sentence Technology

The aard­vark admit­ted its fault.
The aard­vark admit­ted it was wrong.
The aard­vark asked for an aard­vark.
The aard­vark asked for a dag­ger.
The aard­vark asked for health.
The aard­vark asked for a ride.
The absinthe arrived by air­mail.
The abor­tion went well.
The actor asked for an aard­vark.
The actor asked for absti­nence.
The actor asked for redemp­tion.
The adver­tise­ment was effec­tive.
The agile aard­vark arrived by air­mail.
The agile aard­vark bathed with beau­ties.
The agri­cul­ture was cul­ti­vat­ed by the coral.
The aggra­vat­ed dri­ver beeped on his horn.
The aggra­vat­ed roost­er scratched the dirt.
The Althusser­ian schol­ar gave his copy of Lacan’s “Ecrits” to the
abor­tion doc­tor.
The ami­able Althusser­ian schol­ar asked the aard­vark for absinthe.
The ami­able croc­o­dile brushed his teeth with a tooth­brush.
The ami­able doc­tor per­formed the oper­a­tion admirably.
The annex was cov­ered with asbestos.
The annex was crawl­ing with bee­tles.
The apple was air­mailed by the doc­tor.
The apple was con­sumed by the ami­able croc­o­dile.
The apple was inquir­ing about the ami­able croc­o­dile’s friend.
The aqua­ma­rine lifevest was not used.
The aqua­ma­rine lifevest was unpop­u­lar.
The arm­chair was uncom­fort­able.
The arm­chair was favored by the ami­able house­cat.
The ass asked for a bet­ter absinthe.
The ass brayed at the moon.
The assump­tive doc­tor did not accept our per­son­al check.
The assump­tive agri­cul­tur­al expert eyed our absinthe sus­pi­cious­ly.
The attrac­tive peanut farmer grad­ed the term paper.
The attrac­tive roost­er preened its feath­ers to attract absinthe.
The aux­il­iary gen­er­a­tor has mal­func­tioned!
The awning cov­ered the agile aard­vark dur­ing the ami­able rain­storm.
The awning was too tall to touch.
The bab­bling baby asked the aard­vark for some absinthe.
The bab­bling baby baked brown­ies with the ami­able croc­o­dile.
The bab­bling baby basked in its moth­er’s affec­tion.
The bab­bling baby bounced the ball at the bab­bling brook.

Alphabetization Is Not Fit for Music Libraries

Wikipedi­a’s arti­cle on alpha­bet­i­za­tion explains:

Advan­tages of sort­ed lists include:

  • one can eas­i­ly find the first n ele­ments (e.g. the 5 small­est coun­tries) and the last n ele­ments (e.g. the 3 largest coun­tries)
  • one can eas­i­ly find the ele­ments in a giv­en range (e.g. coun­tries with an area between .. and .. square km)
  • one can eas­i­ly search for an ele­ment, and con­clude whether it is in the list

The first two advan­tages are things you almost nev­er need to do with music libraries. And the third has been sup­plant­ed by now-ubiq­ui­tous search box­es: if you know what you’re look­ing for, you search; and if you don’t, an alpha­bet­ized list is not the way to find it.

Web vision­ary Ted Nel­son (<mst3k>Dr. Ted Nelson?</mst3k>) has been para­phrased as point­ing out that “elec­tron­ic doc­u­ments have been designed to mim­ic their paper antecedents,” and that “this is where every­thing went wrong: elec­tron­ic doc­u­ments could and should behave entire­ly dif­fer­ent­ly from paper ones.” If the fold­er metaphor is inad­e­quate for dig­i­tal doc­u­ments, no won­der it’s so piti­ful at han­dling music. The prox­im­i­ty between pieces of music in a library should least of all be based on the first let­ter in a band’s name – it’s as arbi­trary as sort­ing them by the vocal­ist’s month of birth – yet this is how it’s uni­ver­sal­ly done.

Music library orga­ni­za­tion needs to be re-thought from the ground up. We need to con­sid­er how it is that peo­ple used to lis­ten to music before it was all on their iTunes. How are your CDs orga­nized (or dis­or­ga­nized) on your shelf? How are they orga­nized in your head? What is it that prompts you to lis­ten to what you lis­ten to when you lis­ten to it? And how can we use com­put­ers to adopt and enhance these ways of think­ing, rather than forc­ing us to think like com­put­ers? Con­tin­ue →