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Archive for the ‘tech & new media’ Category
A bitter new controversy is tearing the nation apart: of course, I’m speaking of the lack of Flash capability on the Apple iPad’s browser.
When Flash was originally left off the iPhone, Apple explained it as a concern over performance. Sounds pretty reasonable, as having complicated Flash apps with animation and video running on a mobile phone’s underpowered hardware could present some pretty intolerable performance issues.
Presumably the faster processor employed by the iPad renders the performance issue moot, but Flash is still missing.
The omission of Flash on a phone wasn’t ever such a big deal. The speed issue is real, and I’ve found that while the iPhone is about as good at rendering full-size Web sites as one can reasonably expect from a tiny device, I spend much more time looking at content specifically formatted for the small screen, whether through Web apps such as Google Reader’s mobile version or programs such as Instapaper or the NY Times app.
Users might miss Flash a lot more on the iPad, where they’ll be browsing all their favorite sites in their full-sized glory on a much more generously-sized screen. They’ll be likely to notice that videos on Hulu and mlb.com are gone and their Flash-based games like Farmville and Bejeweled ain’t working.
So? If users don’t like it, they don’t have to use the iPad, and if too many stay away, Apple can reconsider. Meanwhile, Flash makes Web sites bloated and sluggish, and it’s a proprietary format that is contrary the Web’s open ethos. For these and myriad other reasons, Flash sucks.
At the same time, browsers are gaining capabilities for handling video, vector graphics, and animation through the evolution of open Web standards. We’re not quite there yet, bit it’s time for Web sites to get away from Flash and move towards standards, as YouTube is doing.
So anyway, if Apple can’t use performance as an excuse anymore, why leave out Flash support on the Apple tablet? I’m sure they have their own reasons, and those reasons might not all have to do with furthering the welfare of Mankind. Apple gains nothing from bringing people content that depends on proprietary technology that Apple doesn’t control, so it makes sense for them to support open standards over Flash. And as a content gatekeeper, they certainly won’t mind if Hulu users end up buying the same shows on the iTunes Store.
But in this case, Apple’s self-interest coincides with encouraging content providers to make better Web sites. So if they want to freeze Flash out of the iPad, good for them, and good for us.
Psystar, the purveyor of unauthorized Mac OS machines that everyone was pretty sure was a hoax when it first surfaced, has filed for Chapter 11 after a year of selling real, live Mac clones. From News.com:
The Chapter 11 filing will temporarily suspend Apple’s copyright infringement suit against Psystar, which is currently before the U.S. District Court of Northern California. But once the bankruptcy protection is sorted out, the copyright case will resume. …
Yeah, get it sorted out. I want to buy a legit Mac clone.
Have you ever noticed that when you do a Google search for something, often among the top five results will be something from a site called Yahoo Answers, and it is invariably useless? It’s a place where boneheads post their dimwitted questions and random Internet boobs provide nonsensical answers, one of which is chosen by the original asker or similarly clueless voters as the “best answer.” Meanwhile, Google crawls the page and its vaunted ranking algorithm judges it to be among the most valuable pages on the Web so that it can pollute our search results for years to come.
How many thousands of hours have been lost due to this worse-than-useless Internet offal and its inexplicably high Google rankings?
Ban Yahoo Answers, Obama!
This is a pretty good one. The AP posts videos to its own official YouTube channel. Some guy embedded AP videos at a site he was editing, and he subsequently got a cease and desist from an AP lawyer, who is apparently unaware that the whole point of YouTube is that you’re supposed to put videos up there that everyone in the universe is encouraged to embed all over the place.
Did this the AP’s law-talkin’ guys miss this language from YouTube’s terms of service?
You also hereby grant each user of the YouTube Website a non-exclusive license to access your User Submissions through the Website, and to use, reproduce, distribute, display and perform such User Submissions as permitted through the functionality of the Website and under these Terms of Service.
OK, so the AP could conceivably have a separate agreement with YouTube that modifies these terms, but:
- Still. It’s YouTube, people.
- Occam’s Razor suggests that we should chalk this one up to stupidity.
This Matt Asay guy at News.com has written a post taking Mac users to task for not using Firefox as much as Matt Asay thinks they should. He writes:
In the midst of counting the total number of Linux users in the world, Mozilla’s Asa Dotzler reveals a startling statistic:
The Mac only accounts for roughly 7 percent of active Firefox browser installations.
Sure, Windows has massive market share, but I would have thought more Mac users would be running Firefox than their Windows peers. Meaning, I had assumed that whereas Windows users would be content to let inertia guide them to Internet Explorer (IE), a greater proportion of Mac owners would make the choice for Firefox, instead of Safari that comes preinstalled on the Mac, netting the Mac a greater percentage of active Firefox installations.
[...] Imagine what Mozilla’s Firefox could do on a level playing field.
First, what does this 7% number tell us? I assume it is measuring worldwide share of Firefox users. Does that tell us anything? It seems like we would have to know the overall share of Mac users to give that number any meaning.
Over here, we see that the Mac’s share of retail sales, presumably in the US only, is about 13% and was recently as high as 16%. But a lot of computers are bought outside of retail channels, particularly in business where Windows is more dominant, so the real US share is probably much lower.
What’s more, the Mac’s worldwide share is lower still — outside the US they don’t sell nearly as well. And Mac market share has risen dramatically over the past couple of years, so the Mac’s worldwide installed base is even lower yet, probably in the low single digits. This is all kind of rough but at least it shows that saying that “only” 7% of all Firefox users are on Macs tells us absolutely nothing about what percentage of Mac users are using Firefox. Heck, it could be all of them for all we know.
What’s more, who cares? People on Windows switch to Firefox from Internet Explorer because IE sucks. IE has laughable standards support and pathetic security. But the Mac’s preinstalled browser, Safari, compared to Firefox, has better standards support, renders pages faster, launches faster, runs scripts faster, is less ugly, and is better integrated with the Mac’s user interface. About the only thing FF for Mac has going for it is that it runs extensions and you can install new themes, features that you can hardly blame anyone for not giving a crap about. So saying that those Mac-using dullards have failed to see the light regarding FF’s self-evident superiority and general awesomeness is a bit unconvincing.
I’m not trying to rip Firefox here, it’s a perfectly decent browser and in fact I’m using FF for Mac right now because I like some of the extensions. But still. Come on.
Old line: Macs are virus-free!
New line: “Apple encourages the widespread use of multiple antivirus utilities…“
Well, I guess I should have something to say about yesterday’s big news, so here goes: I think it’s great that Adobe has hired image manipulation guru Shai Avidan and it would be cool if some of this technology made it into Photoshop and maybe even Web browsers sooner rather than later. Here’s a demo of his work:
And in other news, you probably heard that Barack Obama has won the presidency, which if you’ve been listening to various Republican hacks, represents the end of life as we know it on this planet.
Jack Hunter’s take is in the video below. Some choice quotes:
Conservatives should not be the least bit upset that Obama won; they should rejoice. The Republican party needed to get its ass kicked before anything might improve. …Throughout this election, arguing over whether Barack Obama or John Mccain was better for America’s future was like arguing whether the Backstreet Boys or ‘N Sync would be better for the future of rock and roll. Eventually, fans of both groups grew up, realized they sucked, and made more substantive selections. It’s time for conservatives to grow up.
For the record, I would vote for ‘N Sync.