How Not To

Next time any of you think that Apple just slapped a touchscreen on a mobile device and called it iPhone. The next time you think that UIs are solely a matter of opinion and try to wuss out when people talk about the Mac UI and how crap the Windows UI is by saying that it’s personal preferences and “it all depends on what it’s used for”, please do this for me. I’m not asking a lot, I swear. I’ll even go as far as saying “There is no step 3!”

  1. Remind yourself that you’re being stupid.
  2. Remember the following image:<br/> <br/>
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The next time you think that Apple was utterly lacking in good intentions for making developers wait so long for a proper SDK, close your mouth. Close it and just trust. Trust. Apple knows what it’s doing with User Experience. Also trust that API development is one of the most conservative tasks in all of computing. If you don’t believe me, look at what a piece of shit Vista is. Why did it take Microsoft so long to produce so little? Because it didn’t bother taking its time when publishing an SDK. It didn’t do the right thing and make sure they were right, they were potent, they were orthogonal, they were complete. There’s a difference between Apple delaying public APIs (like Core Animation and Core Image) while using them themselves and Microsoft’s tactics of keeping superior APIs to themselves so they’d have a competitive advantage. Trust again. Trust that Apple knows what it’s doing when it comes to crafting something worthwhile.

It’s really just as simple as that.

And remember that this has nothing to do with Apple as a corporate or Green or political entity and everything to do with the inspiration and diligence of engineers, designers, QA, marketing and yes, even Steve.

Apple is one of the worst corporate citizens when it comes to how it treats its employees if their personal paths veer from a regimented professional path. Steve Jobs can be a dickhead. Financial & Legal clearly seem to have no issues with cheating.

Separate those soi-disant “real world” aspects from the higher, idealistic efforts.

People you can trust. Corporations you must always distrust.

The Second Emendment

Via Gruber:

Beautiful movie poster for Taxi to the Dark Side, banned by the MPAA because it features a U.S. Army detainee in a hood. Which is something that actually happened and happens.

What a world. If any of you out there still think that the RIAA and the MPAA and all those front-and-center “entertainment” regulators aren’t blatantly censorious, you’re fooling yourselves.

I could propose a 28th Amendment to the Constitution, but why not bird two birds with one set of binocs?

The detestability of the NRA leads me to take liberties (while we can) with the Second Amendment:

A well regulated Truth, being necessary to the security of a safe State, the right of the people to keep and bear Delusions, shall not be be infringed.

It has an ugly, accurate ring to it, doesn’t it?

Seriously, in times like these, when even the current denizens Executive Branch even even stoop to selling a Police Action“War” with such rarities of truth, the fucking Motion Picture Association of America bans a poster (read: advertisement) because it shows an American G.I. in a hood, something “inappropriate for all audiences”. (from monoscope.com).

The MPAA’s official statement:

We treat all films the same. Ads will be seen by all audiences, including children. If the advertising is not suitable for all audiences it will not be approved by the advertising administration.

Thank God (of Biscuits) that the MPAA doesn’t get to review the national news before it goes out. We have FOXNEWS for that sort of thing.

MT4 and AmazonMP3

The reason I got into all this “trouble” with the blog layout is because Movable Type 4 (the collection of scripts from SixApart that I used to create and maintain this blog) was too smart. Too smart for my own good, really.

If I hadn’t been poking around at CSS—in particular, the structural/layout aspects of it—I wouldn’t have recovered anywhere near as fast as I did. And while it was much easier to get up and running than previous versions, there’s still so much lacking in web apps that it sends me scurrying back to the comfort of native-application bliss (as always, I’m using ecto as my blogging editor).

I’m biased here, but that doesn’t mean I can’t objectively (and subjectively) justify myself when it comes to native applications. I avoid doing any form of creation within a web page if I can help it. Lots of people trundle along quite happily using LiveJournal (EL-JAY! ugh) or TypePad or Blogger or—eek!—MySpace, typing their blog entries into a web form and clicking that Submit button.

But all you have to do is click the wrong button once, or worse, go visit another website while you’re in the midst of writing a blog entry totally forgetting that to leave the page often times means losing the contents of that page.

So here I sit on BART (the train, not the man) typing away. Yes, I have an internet connection, but I’m not sure I’ll finish this entry (you know how I get) before it’s time to disembark at Union City for my weekly visit to the Korean Herb Doctor. Yes, I could close the MacBook Pro and when I opened it later, the webpage would likely be there, but perhaps not. Perhaps Safari will try to connect to the web before I have a chance to reestablish an internet connection and its display of an error message will be enough to lose whatever I type. Probably not, but the best software is that which removes doubt from the proceedings and provides a sunny path to your goals.

Which brings me to Amazon MP3. Yuck.

I tried. I really did. I spent a half hour trudging through the site in search of my old standbys. I was fully prepared to shell out the $8.99 or whatever to repurchase an album I already had just to compare things.

Well, there’s two million songs, and then there’s two millions songs you’d bother with. In searches for “Billy Joel”, I ended up with cover-band albums and tribute albums, and even some weird Asian group of tweens listed only by their Americanized first names. Among Kay and Bobby and Tom was a boy called “Billy Joel”. The sad part is that it was better than most of the alternative listings which were primarily karaoke tracks. At least the kids were singing original material.

Searching for other well-established artists turned up similiar disappointments. I finally ended up with an older Sufjan Stevens album, “Illinoise”, but not after downloading an ironic client application which was required for downloading an entire album at a time.

The client application was the best part of the experience, though. After downloading that and installing it—which required quitting Safari and relaunching it—the purchase started a download of a .amz file, which was the album’s bundle of resources: artwork, songs encoded as MP3s, but at 256kbps and with no DRM.

iTunes Store songs are encoded as AACs (MPEG-4) at 128kbps. Don’t go thinking that the Amazon downloads are twice as nice because they’re encoded at a higher bit-rate because AAC is a much more efficient codec than MP3.

You also end up with a song file that’s 60% larger than an iTunes song of a similar length. That means that if your iPod normally can hold 10,000 songs from iTunes (or your own CDs encoded with AAC), it can only hold 6,250 Amazon MP3 songs. If your iPod is a classic or “classic” iPod with a hard disk, that also means significantly poorer battery life because the hard disk has to spin up more often to access the larger song files.

But I saved a whole $1.00 and the music I have has no technical restrictions on copying as much as I want. But then, I have yet to bump my head against the technological restrictions of the FairPlay (iTunes) DRM, so that doesn’t mean anything.

What a chore. I suppose they’ll get better, but then so will iTunes. Yes, I’m once again biased, but my biases are out in the open.

At the end of the day, that half hour could have been better spent—on fixing the CSS & HTML of this blog, for instance—and I’ll take the comfort of a ⌘S and a local file anyday.