I’m not going to link to any of the eighty-seven million stories — do your own research, nerds! — but my close, personal friend Steve Jobs just announced his resignation as CEO of Apple. He’ll be stepping down, effective immediately, and will become the Chairman of the Board. Tim Cook is the new CEO.
I’d make a Frank Sinatra joke here, but shut up.
I know Steve’s a visionary, and all that, and he really did help reshape the computing world, and aspects of the world at large. He understands that people who want to use computers are like people who drive cars; they don’t want to worry how the goddamn thing works, they just want to use it. Who goddamn cares what kind of transmission it is? I need to go to the store!
There are changes underway in the Apple ecosystem, many of which I’ve talked about recently, which I’ll be totally proven right about, but those are tweaks, rather than innovations. Making the Mac an iOS device isn’t innovation, it’s a course adjustment. Making iOS, and the iPad it was built for, that was the innovation. That was Steve’s innovation, and it was, by many accounts, the computer Steve’s always wanted to make.
Think about that for a moment: Steve spent something like 30 years building computers he didn’t want before he was able to make the one computer he wanted to: the iPad. Apple exists to make this computer, and when you think about it, that makes Steve a one-trick Pony. I mean, that makes Steve a phenomenally successful one-trick pony, and I’ve made jokes about him revolutionizing industries by accident — these jokes are actually true, so shut up — but he really only had the one idea.
People make fun of Google for being a one-trick pony because of their dependence on search, but Steve, in the long-view, was even more narrowly focused.
The shame of him stepping down, aside from his health concerns, is that we’ll never see if Steve had an idea to follow up the iPad with. The main idea seems to be to make all of their computers like it, but as I say above, that’s not innovation. That’s exploitation of another, tremendously successful idea.
I don’t say that to attack Steve. I’m deeply in love with him, and have sent him lists, on many occasions, explaining why he should have my babies. They were all good, convincing lists. I say that because I would’ve liked to see if he had a second idea.
Now we’ll never know.
Right now, the amazingly sweet and just-released Final Cut Pro X, Apple’s flagship video editing program, has got 13 ratings in the Mac App store, and is currently averaging 3 stars. One of the reviews, which gave it 2 stars, called it “Shockingly deficient.” Is this just the response to someone who isn’t paying attention, or is it a sign of things to come?
Over at patentlyapple.com, there’s talk of a new patent Apple has applied for what the site calls a “Breakthrough Platform Independent Word Processor,” one that could operate in the browser. This is the problem Apple wants to solve:
The recent proliferation of web browsers and computer networks has made it easy to display the same document on different computing platforms. However, inconsistencies in the way fonts are rendered across different computing platforms could cause the same document to be rendered differently for users of different computing platforms. More specifically, for a given font, the way in which metrics for various font features are interpreted, such as character height, width, leading and white space, can differ between computing platforms. These differences in interpretation could cause individual characters in a document to be rendered at different locations, which could ultimately cause the words in a document to be positioned differently between lines and pages on different computing platforms.
This inconsistent rendering could be a problem for people who are collaborating on a document. For example, if one collaborator points out an error on a specific line of a specific page, another collaborator viewing the same document on a different computing platform may have to first locate the error on a different line of a different page.
Hence, what is needed is a technique for providing consistent rendering for documents across different computer systems and computing platforms.
This is the solution:
Some embodiments presented in Apple’s patent application describe a system that typesets and renders a document in a platform-independent manner. During operation, the system first obtains the document, wherein the document includes text content and associated style information including one or more fonts. The system also generates platform-independent font metrics for the one or more fonts, wherein the platform-independent font metrics include information that could be used to determine the positions of individual characters in a rendering of the document. Next, the system uses the platform-independent font metrics to determine how the document is divided into line fragments and pages. Finally, the system uses the determined division while rendering the document, so that the division of the document into line fragments and pages is the same across different computing platforms.
Now, call me senile, but a consistent cross-platform experience is something that seems right up Flash’s alley. A swf on PC looks the same on a Mac, or Linux. They’ve been doing this for over a decade. But you’re probably thinking wait, Walt, you senile old bastard — I’m in your head — a consistent cross-browser experience that’s already built and already used by 99% of everyone online isn’t a word processor. True, it isn’t, but aside from the fact that Adobe purchased a product called Buzzword — a Flash-based wordprocessor — years ago and integrated it into Acrobat.com, there was also Virtual Ubiquity, which doesn’t seem to exist anymore, but did.
So, you know, prior art, and all that.
I love how moist Patently Apple is getting at the idea of this, talking about how Apple, if they put out a cross-platform word processor, will change the landscape again. Look, I’m no Apple hater, but they’re clearly trying to patent something that’s existed for several years.
Is Patently Apple going to get all excited at Apple’s upcoming plans to replace the horse and buggy with an automated, mechanical machine? I hear it’s going to be goddamn huge.
Gruber put up a post titled “Wolf!” the other day, wherein he quoted a bunch of folks, from 2004 onward, stating that Apple’s era of relative freedom from security threats would soon be over. The implication moptop’s going for is that people have been gleefully calling for the end of the Mac’s freedom for years, and been wrong, so they will continue to be wrong forever.
First, if you’ve read any of Gruber’s posting, him poking fun at someone else trying to rub a person’s nose in anything is ironic in the extreme; Daring Fireball is nothing if not an exercise in the cult member angrily trumpeting his superiority at having picked the one true faith. It’s an angry blog.
Second, Gruber’s wrong. Shockingly. SHOCKINGLY. Yes, the threat of Malware on Mac has been one that hasn’t, to date, materialized in a large way. But so what? The quotes he provides from these articles aren’t wrong; people ARE making more attempts to crack into the Mac as it gains popularity, and Malware IS becoming more of a threat for the thing. And Mac users DO act all superior about the fact that they don’t have to worry about viruses and other threats. And his own predictions about not just the continued marketshare increase for the Mac, but the continued decrease of marketshare and prominence of Windows means that now, more than ever, people will be using these mobile devices, and it’s not like these malware producers, whose livelihood is based on building malware for either themselves, or organized crime, are going to change their profession because iOS has such a wonderful polish to it.
The Mac isn’t some perfectly secure thing. Nor is Safari. Mac is easily hackable, and every year at the PwnToOwn contest, where hackers crack into browsers for money, Safari — used quite a lot on the Mac — is always the first to fall. And Safari’s on iOS. And is crackable. And Apple has sold 100 million of the devices. And hackers go where the money is. And Mac users are sold security as a benefit of the platform, meaning they’re less on the lookout for threats than PC users are.
Here’s the thing: Gruber is saying that these folks have been calling for the end of Mac safety for years and are wrong because they’ve been wrong so far. This is a logical fallacy, as past performance isn’t a guarantee of future performance, but what kind of Mac devotee — which is what Gruber is — can’t appreciate the value of being forward thinking? Gruber, like so many others, spent YEARS in the wilderness saying “The Mac is superior and one day, ONE DAY YOU WILL ALL SEE.” He’s spent a sizeable chunk of his life spreading that message, and is now able to say “SEE, I WAS RIGHT ALL ALONG, YOU PC-LOVING TWATS!” How, exactly, is that different from security experts saying “The Mac is insecure and one day, ONE DAY YOU WILL ALL SEE?”
Is Gruber too drunk on imagined power to see his own inconsistencies?
There’s a lot of hubub today about a reference to “ix.Mac.MarketingName” appearing as a list of supported devices for some iOS apps, which you can see here:
The answer to both of these questions is no.
What’s really happening is this: iOS apps are coming to OS X.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking “Walt, you’re goddamn insane!” That may be partly true — I’m certainly hitting the sauce — but I’m sane about this. Check it:
Apple recently put Xcode onto the Mac App Store, presumably so more and more people who aren’t developers can play with the tools, decide they want to build apps for the platform, and then pay Apple money. What’s in Xcode? The iOS simulator. They’ve already built it and taken the first steps to put it in everyone’s hands. It’s a logical goddamn step to take to supe up the simulator so that you can download apps to it. Also, Amazon just put up a way to test Android apps on their website, using their massive cloud computing system. I don’t suppose Apple, who already knows how to build the simulator because it built the simulator, could possibly want to let people test out their apps, either online or on your desktop, even if you’re on a PC. No, that’s crazy, right? That’s batshit insane! Why, they’d need a massive new data centre to power that! Could you even imagine the —
If you’re on the Mac, you’ll get to download and play games to your Mac. If you’re on a PC, you’ll get to test-drive apps in your browser, and then get the burning goddamn desire to buy a Mac. Pretty genius, right?
Let’s ignore the PC aspect of things for a moment, and focus on the mac: you’re talking about the lack of a touchscreen on Mac OS X, right? One: Most apps work perfectly fine in the simulator with just mouse control. Typing works better. And what if Apple decided that the next iMac has a touch screen and, say, a tilting screen to compensate for the whole “arm fatigue” thing Steve talked about when supposedly dismissing rumours of a touch-screen Mac? Exactly.
Also, this fits in with Apple’s continuing plans to make as much money as a money-grubbing God and to make the desktop OS the same as the mobile OS. Note to pundits: this crap is going to happen. Stop fighting me on it. When Apple announced the App Store features of Lion, and the general “appification” of the OS, who was right? This guy. That’s right. While all you goddamn asshole pundits went around the next day saying “oh, yeah, of course Apple is going in this direction, it’s been obvious the whole time,” the day after you said “Apple would never do this,” I’m actually the guy who’s been calling it.
And I’m calling this.
Apple is bringing iOS apps to Mac OS. In 10.8, the only way to get apps onto your mac will be through the Mac App Store, or the iTunes App Store. It’s coming.
So I just loaded the new iOS app Showyou on my iPad. It’s basically Flipboard for video, in that it combs your facebook and twitter feeds for video links, then shows them to you in a single spot.
Anyway, Showyou. It’s nice enough, and it does what it says it does. It’s got two viewing modes: a grid-view, and a list view that for some reason only showed me two videos that Liz Gannes shared somewhere. I’m honestly not making either of those things up.
While the grid, with its differently-sized screenshots of the video, looks nice enough, it scrolls both vertically AND horizontally, such that you kind of just slide around aimlessly looking at videos. And when you scroll, it takes a second to update, and you get the checkerboard. Now, I may be an old man who’s currently drunk — that’s more than a little likely — but this is confusing. Scrolling around I have no idea if I’ve seen all there is to offer. Where the crap am I in this goddamn grid? I have no idea. Constraining the scrolling to a single axis would make it pretty and stop it from being confusing.
Regarding the list view, I’m assuming that’s supposed to be the less-fun-but-more-usable viewing mode, but honestly, it showed me links to two videos shared by Liz Gannes, and while I tried to scroll past, it wouldn’t show me anything more.
TechCrunch wrote about Showyou, and Scoble made the first comment, chastising Aaarrrrrington et al for not giving it more ink, or recognizing it’s “one of the most important new iPad apps.” Really, Scoble? One of the most important apps? Because it lets you look at links people are already sharing with you? What makes this important? Ever the self-promoter, Scoble links to his own blog, so that TechCrunch readers can see the proper technique for a blowjob — if your knees aren’t bleeding, you’re doing it wrong — where he goes on and on about the importance of AirPlay. Is AirPlay a big deal? No, not yet, because you need to have an Apple TV to get the full living-room experience, and most people don’t even know the thing exists. But he personally likes it, so he thinks it’ll be a huge success. Judging by many of his past comments, he actually thinks that his liking a thing will make it a huge success.
Scoble, you arrogant twat, most people aren’t like you. They don’t have twenty-seven boxes connected to their TV. They don’t want that. They’re still trying to get used to the goddamn magical intensity of the iPad that they’ve owned for a year. And since AirPlay isn’t yet open, it’s not going anywhere. If TVs themselves supported it, sure, but that system failed when it was called DLNA, and despite your incomprehensible assertion that it failed was because the iPad didn’t exist and didn’t support it, it failed because in general, not enough things had it, so you couldn’t reliably use the fucking thing, and so no user would get into the habit of using it, if they ever had the right combination of gear to use it in the first place.
I don’t know why I’m getting upset at Scoble. It’s not like he’s even remotely credible when it comes to technology: after all, this is the guy who, in his conversation about why AirPlay is so fantastic and will totally catch on, said:
RSS was NOT open, by the way. It was largely controlled first by Netscape and later by Dave Winer. It was a standard that was made popular by Dave Winer and his company UserLand. It became a defacto standard because everyone started using it. The same way people are already starting to adopt AirPlay (thanks Rob Mitchell for the Lifehacker links that demonstrate such).
RSS is a de-facto standard that any developer can use. That doesn’t mean it’s open. Dave Winer controls it.
Of course, father of RSS Dave Winer stepped in and defended his honor, saying:
Scoble, RSS was and is completely open. Someone creates everything. Please.
Scoble did not respond to this.
Seriously, getting upset at his portrayal of technology is like criticizing the specifics of your infant child’s plans for a rocketship to Mars: Scoble thinks that a freely published spec for a text file isn’t open, and that Dave Winer is sitting in some goddamn castle somewhere, rubbing his fingers together cackling over all the control he has over it. And thinks that a proprietary piece of tech made by Apple is somehow more open an accessible than a free and clear spec for text files.
I could write down all of Scoble’s technical expertise on a single sheet of paper, then be able to use the entire paper to write something worthwhile, because it would still be blank.