Particle Debris (wk. ending 6/17) Eat Your Own Cloud Food

| Particle Debris

This week, Dave Hamilton and I worked on WWDC interviews with developers. One interesting story was from Macro Arment, the developer of Instapaper and how he felt about Apple’s new Reading List feature in Safari. Often, with proper developer focus and customer development, these incursions by Apple aren’t as scary as they seem. Here’s a great story at TechCrunch about that very subject: “What To Do When A Tech Giant Decides To Eat Your Lunch.

So then the venture capitalist says, “Why couldn’t Microsoft just write some code and put you out of business?” you’ll have your very astute answer already thought out.

Our states are so desperate for tax money that they’re ready to eat their children, drive local merchants out of business and even infringe on a Supreme Court ruling (Quill Corporation v. North Dakota). If you want to see how Amazon is dealing with the issue and cutting off local affiliates in your state, here’s a state-by-state synopsis: “Amazon Sales Tax: The Battle, State by State.

Cloud Food

There’s nothing so cool as taking the public data that Apple divulges, doing some solid math, making some good assumptions and then coming up with new, sometimes amazing information that, perhaps, Apple would not have happily revealed. That’s what Horace Dediu has done when he calculated: “iTunes now costs $1.3 billion/yr to run.

Mr. Dediu’s conclusion, US$1.3 billion isn’t perhaps as interesting as it is instructive on how to do these kinds of things. Here’s more on that, assuming you have Adobe Flash installed.

I saw a tweet that was cute: Eat your own cloud food. And indeed, Apple will be involved in the cloud for many years and not without some controversy and challenges. Is Apple moving backwards? Simplifying to make sure the service can’t frustrate customers, indeed even fail? What is Apple’s philosophy this time around? Is the strategy still flawed? The answers to some of these questions can be found in “iCloud and Apple’s truth: can you win if you don’t play?

Sascha Segan is an expert on mobile phones. So I was interested to see his analysis of why Apple is selling unlocked iPhones now. He provides several good reasons: Keeping the iPhone jazz going until the iPhone 5 is ready and currying favor with the FCC. There’s much more in: “Why Apple Is Selling Unlocked iPhones in the U.S.

As we move from paper books to digital books, we have to be careful. A strong electromagnetic pulse from a single nuclear weapon could wipe clean millions of computer hard disks. Librarians and historians are concerned with how to archive and protect our body of work, especially as cities start to close their libraries. Exactly how to do this is an interesting technical challenge. Here’s one solution: “Internet Archive Starts Backing Up Digital Books … on Paper” Catastrophe’s have happend before, with great loss.

I normally stick to technical articles of interest, but occasionally I point out interesting software as well. I heard about it from @timoreilly. (Yes, that Tim O’Reilly.) Do you work late? Do you have illuminations problems in your work space? Do you wish you could change the color temperature of your display as a function of the time of day? I can’t vouch for this Mac app, but it seems worth looking into: f.lux. If you try it, tell us what you think.

Another Mac app that looks intriguing is the “Trainz Simulator.” A complete digital, visual simulation of a model railroad. If you don’t have room to build a model train set, this could be a lot of fun and help you get it out of your system. Check the screen shots at the bottom of the page. Breathtaking.

There’s no doubt that the iPad is the number one tablet on the planet. What brings it home, however, is seeing the iPad, in photos, actually being deployed in various work environments. Here’s a slide show from CIO magazine that reveals all the ways people are using the tablet where a notebook, indeed even a netbook, just wouldn’t work. I wonder how many of these situations Steve Jobs dreamed about.

Often, our representatives in Washington D.C. screw up their private lives and have to resign. Others seem to have everyone’s interests in mind except those whom they represent. So it was refreshing to hear about Senator Patrick Leahy (D.,Vermont) looking out for the privacy of his constituents. Speaking at the Computers and Freedom and Privacy conference, he’d described his plan to update the 1986 law, written in the days of the black & white Mac Plus. Here’s a synopsis: “Senator renews pledge to update digital-privacy law.

At the National Cable & Telecommunications Association’s cable show, Comcast CEO Brian Roberts took the opportunity to brag about his company’s plans for gigabit speeds to the home. Whether that was all PR fluff and whether just anyone will be able to get it is anyone’s guess. But growth is indeed inevitable, it just may come more slowly than we’d like. Would you believe… 2020? Here’s the tantalizing tale: “Comcast shows off next-generation broadband, TV.

There hasn’t been a TWoW in a while. Instead, I’ll offer up some new technical phrases that I’ve run across in the last week or so. It’s not the language of binary moisture evaporators, but something akin.

  • “Geo Fence” - Scott Forstall, WWDC keynote. Set up a geo-coordinate perimeter, penetrate it, and your iPhone will send you a message.
  • “Meta-curation” - James Wilson, Lithium Corp. The idea that people you chose to follow on Twitter creates a curated body of knowledge.
  • “iPad Sleight of Hand” - Dan Bricklin, Software Garden. The iPad really is magical because we learn the magician’s sleight of hand.
  • “Eat Your Own Cloud Food” - @ginablaber. As in “eat your own dog food.”
  • “Tap the Cloud” - WWDC Keynote. When the cloud icon appears on your iPad in the App Store, you tap it to download a previously purchased item on another device. Also a nice double entendre


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Jim Bowers

Two comments,
1. In

‘iCloud and Apple?s truth: can you win if you don?t play?’

Mr. Topolsky just has the Google mindset and doesn’t argue from the Apple view of the world. He seems to want to work from the web. That went out with the mainframes and terminals. (But, Hey, everybody has the right to preferences.) 


A strong electromagnetic pulse from a single nuclear weapon could wipe clean millions of computer hard disks.

  I worked in the EMP community for 5 years doing the E&M calculations. Sorry to disagree here but you are making an unwarranted assumption. EMP won’t wipe the disks.The electric and magnetic fields are very long wavelength compared to the micron scale of the bits in the HD platters, so all they see is large DC fluctuations that don’t alter the bit-to-bit polarity at all.  It will very likely fry the computer, the logic board and even the power circuits in the HD and if the HD is being written to or read from at the moment will trash those bits and may bounce and crater the read/write head. But if you take the HD out of the dead computer, replace the HD logic circuit and put it into a functional computer the data will be almost untouched.


I’ve been using Flux since it became available.  I love it, except when I am watching a movie on my Mac (3200K is way too yellow for movies), but one can disable Flux for an hour at a time.

John Martellaro

Mr. Bowers:  That research on EMP is really good to know.  Thanks.


Intriguing mix of topics, John.

Joshua Topolsky’s piece perhaps struck me the most. I think he raises solid points about web-based services, and his comments resonate with many around the blogosphere; Apple are missing an opportunity to gain traction against Google and MS in web-based services, and are failing to leverage their services in MobileMe with iCloud. As Sasch Segan noted, Apple does nothing without a reason. At least that is what we have come to expect. So for what reason(s) would Apple drop current web-based services, and not push it’s iWork suite, for example, to the web?

I don’t pretend to know, but here are a couple of thoughts.

Efficiency and economy of motion. Apple’s business model is study of efficiency from product design, product lineup, retail stores, etc. Apple have been fairly realistic about what they do well, and concentrating on those areas. I suspect that they look at what sells, what works, how people use their their products/services and what fraction of their customers use them, and trim their sails accordingly. I suspect that their curent web offerings simply haven’t gained traction among a criticl mass, and Apple are cutting their losses so as not to bleed resources.

Second, and related, Apple are clearly paying attention to how people are using their iOS and OS X devices, and from my read, are concentrating on how to enhance the efficiency of their use. They are doing this by concentrating on harmonisation and integration across devices at minimal consumer cost. They want people to buy the hardware; and the software and services are designed to support that objective. Do their current web services do so? Probably not, at least not substantively. Better to bail. Again, just an opinion.

Third, Apple are masters of misdirection and secrecy. Just when we think they are dead in the water, or at least out of options (e.g. PowerPC chips falling behind declared speed goals), they come up with the unthinkable (switching to Intel - the ‘Great Satan’ of computer chips, oh and by the way, they’ve been working on it for years). If web services are critical to Apple’s plans for growth in hardware marketshare and industry mindshare, they are likely to come up with something better than what they already have - and do not, repeat, do not rule out partnerships with any current rivals who are currently providing those services better than Apple can. It’s happened before.

Loved the slideshow, particularly that last slide.


The Apple view is interesting and challenging to the “web-centric” conventional wisdom.  I don’t know who will win.  But Apple is clearly traveling down the new client/server road where the client is a conventional app and connectivity to the server is HTTPS/SOAP or something. 

Question is why ?  I dont know the answer to that either, but it might include:

1) Web apps constrain the user experience from Apples point of view.  The standards define the experience - whatever you can do in HTML5/Javascript - thats it….perhaps not enough for Apple

2) Performance - Web Apps tend to move a lot more data back and forth - at the very least all of the presentation bits have to be moved.  With Apps it’s just data and an App will have greater ability to interact with the device in a secure way that can be allowed for the browser

3) Security - It seems like most exploits work through the browser in some way.  The internet is wide open, hosting friend and foe alike.  Not so much when interactions are mediated through an App and that App has to be vetted by Apple


@ jim bowers:

What if you are using an SSD?

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