Hi! Do you remember blogs? Well, this used to be one. Now it just serves as an archive for my multiple Twitter accounts.

1 July 2008

The rent’s due and This American Life has a story about two would-be writers going homeless. Spooky.

I hate, hate, hate getting comment spam without URLs. I know why they do it, but it feels like gratuitous vandalism.

2 July

How does one go around and create one of those free-to-play MMOs the Koreans drop by the dozen? I’ve got ideas.

Okay, it was a bit rude to snicker at “Let’s meet up sometime” but, hey, he knows me and how unrealistic that was.

It’s got screws!

I haven’t watched the iPhone guided tour yet (which is why I haven’t linked or commented it), but — oh my god, the iPhone 3G has two screws at the bottom (apparently).

It’s so weird having a consumer electronics Apple product with exposed screws, you have to wonder if they’re deliberately — but unofficially — making it easy for end users to change the battery.

3 July

Second podcast I listen to this week where someone is eating while recording. Jesus godfuckingdamn christfuck assholes.

iPhone 3G Guided Tour

So… the new guided tour is up, and I’ve wasted thirty minutes of my life because when I downloaded it I didn’t notice there was a separate “See what’s new” video. I heartily recommend you download that one instead, even though it doesn’t seem to work here (the zip uncompresses with no error, but the video won’t play). Listening to iPhone Guy (whom I still don’t like) say “iPhone 3G” out loud all the time is annoying enough as it is, you don’t need to listen to the whole remake of the previous video regarding the functionalities that haven’t changed.

 

Observations:

  • isn’t it weird that the microphone is on the bottom with the speaker (and the infamous screws)? was that already the case?

  • the video indicates that you should press the Sleep button to activate; the Home button better still work (both buttons work on the current-gen iPhone, so I guess there’s no reason for it to change, but I can’t see either why they’d want to recommend using the Sleep button rather than Home)

  • I thought you were supposed to be able to display videos in portrait mode; either the rumor was wrong, or they realized that you may want to watch videos while lying sideways on your bed (and I wish they realized it applies to applications and web surfing too)

  • they haven’t fixed the problem of Ok, Cancel and Edit buttons being all over the place, which is a shame because that was the right moment to make an effort at MacOS-like consistency

  • Safari still sends you to the unoptimized desktop Google search, which makes no sense to me (but may be Google’s fault, actually, if the mobile version doesn’t process and subsidize referrals)

  • tapping the title bar to return to the top of a list is a great, subtle addition (hoping it’s standard across all apps, even third-party)

  • nothing has changed about the keyboard (except for Asian languages), including having to tap a small, moving target to deny a correction

  • guess there’s still no way to blacklist SMS spammers

  • turns out you can already two-finger tap to zoom out in Maps… and only in Maps, which is stupid

  • AIM is in the App Store, even though it wasn’t demonstrated again at the WWDC keynote

RT @Moltz: You want to talk about awkward, Vader had to write the letters home to the families of all those Imperial officers he strangled. Awk-ward.

4 July

Stevens Creek Software

And this is why Steve Jobs cried himself to sleep for one month when it became evident that Apple had no choice but to provide an application SDK. Hell, it may even be why he lost weight from one WWDC to the other.

The Mac’s limited marketshare saved us from most of the developers who don’t grok the Mac way of things and consequently don’t feel the urge to program for OS X; the iPhone’s supposed popularity, on the other hand, along with the App Store’s great business model, is going to attract all those peons like a Kenny G concert.

BMW 7 Series

I think I’m really done with BMW now. When the top of the Mercedes line looks infinitely better — and more dynamic — than BMW’s, there’s really nothing to save anymore.

I saw an old 750iL on the street the other day. Ah, the good old days.

I, Robot

Any real fan of Isaac Asimov was probably disappointed with Will Smith’s take on I,Robot, but that doesn’t mean you have to deny yourself the pleasure of toying with the film’s robots.

5 July

** joined the group Ingrid Betancourt: Merci Sarko” […] “Are you sure you want to remove ** as your friend?”

Migrate data from your iPhone to your new iPhone 3G

A pretty long and detailed walkthrough that basically boils down to the official confirmation of what you’d expect to make sense: when presented with a blank iPhone, iTunes will offer to restore one of your backups on it (iTunes automatically backs up your iPhone when you sync it, in case you haven’t noticed). And, if it doesn’t offer, you can just force it.

As obvious as it is, I’m linking it because that’s the kind of information you like to be sure of beforehand. Oh, and you can also expect that the process will fail for a number of people. That’s how computers work.

iPod USB Stick

I initially wondered how durable such a thing could be, until I realized it didn’t matter at all, because they’ll be C&Ded into oblivion by Apple Legal on Monday.

6 July

I really need to find a way to get the next Hyperion novels without losing them to the mailbox thieves.

7 July

Tricia Helfer teases the BSG finale

Obviously, it’s the end of the series, so things are going to be revealed, and all the questions are going to be answered. There’s a lot to fit in. […] All our reactions to reading script [among the cast], we talked about it – some people broke down in tears, I felt like I was punched in the stomach. […] There’s some really heartwarming stuff, there’s some very damaging, sad stuff. It’s such a commentary on human behavior and social behavior and where our world is and can go. I find the last episode is quite fascinating, the study of life.

#gtaiv Feeling bad I killed D. But they both annoyed me so much anyway, I kinda win in the end.

#gtaiv Oh god I’m only 43% through.

8 July

The building hasn’t been very noisy lately. Everybody must be dead.

Moscow Mercedes

I still hate the McLaren nose, but I think I like the livery. It would look nice on a big, fat Mercedes or Audi limousine.

Tile + Light

Unfortunately, you probably don’t want that in your bathroom (low voltage is running through each tile).

#gtaiv Just got a posthumous email from D. That’s cruel.

9 July

Google Lively

Google launches its Second Life and… it’s Windows-only. What the hell?

It seems to look surprisingly pretty, though. I wish I could make a better opinion by running it instead of just watching a YouTube video.

10 July

Google’s iPhone app is US-only. WTF?

I say NO to posting tinyurled iTunes Store links on Twitter without warning.

#gtaiv Okay, Bernie/Florian is offensive.

#vieuxcon Grogner “Pardon !” quand quelqu’un gêne, c’est encore s’excuser, alors maintenant je percute.

11 July

“A new iPhone software version (2.0) is available for the iPhone Nekophone.” Hee!

Mobile Twitterific has horrible laggy scrolling.

iPhone 2.0

Well, it’s been a long wait — I didn’t jailbreak my iPhone, so I wasn’t about to install a leaked firmware just because I couldn’t wait to try the applications I downloaded 24 hours in advance — but iPhoneOS 2.0 is finally available… if you can get it (and you might not want to hurry).

You’d think, after the difficulties Apple’s servers had with the first iPhone launch, they’d have gotten their act together, and that would be as naive as thinking that .Mac is gonna get reliable just because they renamed it MobileMe and hired good Ajax developers. It turns out that iPhone 3G buyers can’t activate their phones, and it also happens that the same activation platform needs to be contacted when an old iPhone owner upgrades their system — meaning lots of bricked iPhones across the world. Awesome planning, guys. As in, criminally moronic. (Who’da thunk having new buyers and early adopters activate their phones all at the same time might incur some kind of exceptional server load?)

I’ve been lucky, though: after more than half an hour of an infinite progress bar (not counting the twenty minutes it took to actually upgrade the phone), iTunes managed to contact the servers and reactivate my phone, so I’m not stuck with a brick. I’m stuck, however, with a fully-functional iPhone 2.0 that will not sync to my computer because the damn software still wants to contact the iTunes Store when I plug the phone in. Go figure.

But, at least, I can use my phone — and try out the free applications — which is more than many sad users can say tonight.

 

iPhone 2.0

Let’s focus on the OS upgrade itself, first: if you’ve read blogs, and/or you’ve watched the guided tour videos, you already know pretty much all there is to know.

Interestingly, the iPod touch’s Contacts application makes its appearance on the Springboard. Even more interestingly, it has everything the Phone app’s contacts pane has except the shortcut that scrolls back to the top of the list (and its search bar) when you tap the application’s header. So much for hoping that this cool addition was part of the system list framework, then.

And, yes, I’m glad there’s a Contacts application, because (1) I like to select a contact on the list, then click their email address to send them a message (instead of starting from Mail then choosing the recipient), and it doesn’t make sense to go to the Phone app for that; and (2) I don’t like the Phone app anyway, because it aggregates functionalities that are too separate — contacts, voicemail and call logs have no reason to be grouped together when SMS isn’t.

What else? I’m using Gmail and Google Apps, so I won’t enjoy push email for a while. I don’t have enough appointments to care about the improved Calendar. Appallingly, the camera still doesn’t record video, although at least it does record geolocation.

Oh, speaking of which: it doesn’t seem to be every time you launch them, but basically each application that accesses GPS information is going to make the iPhone ask you if you’re okay with that. A lot. It’s going to manage to be more annoying as Leopard’s “security” prompt when you open a downloaded zip or dmg.

And… that’s pretty much it for the OS upgrade, but that’s kind of okay, because Apple had to focus all of its development power on implementing the application SDK. You can expect the next few double-point releases to fix SDK bugs, and then we’ll get to version 2.1 or something and Apple will be back to improving the phone’s UI. Hopefully.

Oh, I forgot: you can take screenshots by pressing the Home and Sleep buttons at the same time. As cool as it is, I’m not sure there couldn’t have been more productive uses of such an exclusive shortcut.

 

The App Store

Well, this is breaking the chronology, obviously, since everybody could access it yesterday, as soon as iTunes 7.7 was available. (I didn’t blog it then, because I was waiting for the OS update to come out a few hours later, which would have been entirely possible and might incidentally have spread out the server load.) And, from a cursory glance at my aggregator, it seems like the general opinion is pretty similar to mine: boy, there’s a lot of crap out there, and a lot of it is way too expensive for what it is.

Of course, there’s a gold rush aspect to it: no matter how mediocre a developer you are, you have an opportunity to prey on stupid customers who discover the App Store and its only five hundred applications (seriously, when you see what’s considered an application, that’s no number to boast about) ; the quality of iPhone software will only improve from here on, so it’s now or never to sell overpriced crap for early adopters.

But there’s also the perverse effect of a $99 entry fee to the developers program: sure, big web 2.0 brands are going to shell it out and offer their applications for free, but as far as individual developers go it’s a little harder to justify the expense if you’re only going to release small freeware stuff. Sure, there will still be a lot of passionate freeware developers going for glory and self-satisfaction, but there’s also a very real incentive to make it worth their while, even if 99$ isn’t a fortune. And Apple is certainly very aware and satisfied with that.

As for the store itself… well, there’s my problem with the iPhone not syncing with the Mac, so I had to download again, from the mobile application, all the apps I’d downloaded through iTunes. I got an email receipt for all the $0 purchases I’d made, which is pretty much akin to getting a receipt for each podcast episode you download. The mobile store is very annoying in that it sends you back to the Springboard every time you download something. And I’ve triggered a weird bug that created two blank spaces in the middle of my Springboard. Ungh.

 

The applications

So, okay, most of what’s there is crap, but how about the apps I did download? I didn’t pay for anything yet — I’ll probably buy Super Monkey Ball and one of the photo annotation programs later — but there’s enough free stuff in there to have a little fun (or lack of fun). I’ll go with those in alphabetical order, since that’s the way they’re listed in iTunes.

AIM: Everybody says it’s buggy, but I didn’t go far enough to notice, because I don’t use AIM and only have two .Mac contacts there. All I know is that persistent conversations don’t seem to work, so it’s pretty much useless. (I read somewhere that the SDK’s notification system, which lets the server ping you, via Apple, when something’s happening, wouldn’t be available before September, so maybe it’ll be more usable then.) I’ll just wait the Google Talk app. Or use Facebook chat.

Evernote: The very existence of an iPhone app might just push me to pay for the Evernote subscription when the beta ends. The desktop application was already the most efficient Yojimbo-like program I’d found, and I was reluctant to use it because it’s going to be subscription-based, but their cross-platform development is so aggressive I might not resist much longer.

Exposure: A Flickr app whose most interesting functionality is that it can display pictures that were taken close to your current locations; that’s pretty cool and well done. I’m disappointed, though, that you can’t actually post pictures with it — even if they probably intend to add it later (and it’s not a big deal because you can very easily email pictures to your account), I don’t quite get why it wouldn’t be available from the start.

Facebook: I wondered when the iPhone web application would implement chat; well, they were saving it for the native application. It’s all very clean and fluid and well-done — except for choking on accented letters in names, which I’m sure will be easily fixed soon.

Google: Not available outside the US, apparently. Not that it’s a big loss — it’s more of a placeholder than anything for now — but why the hell?

NetNewsWire: I’m currently not syncing my feeds with Newsgator, because I found it unreliable in the past. I’m going to have to try again. I would have liked so much to just import a list of feeds via Rendezvous.

PhoneSaber: Hee. That’s much better than jerking a whole MacBook around, isn’t it?

Remote: It’s nice that Apple’s developers had the time to throw us a bone and bring something really new, and fun, to the table. Basically, it’s the exact same interface as the iPod application (minus Cover Flow) and it controls your home computer’s iTunes. And it’s really cool — best free app on the Store, hands down.

Twitterific: Beside the activation servers crashing (which was not surprising), this is the big letdown of the day. The interface is nice and all, but scrolling the list is horribly laggy, of the headache-inducing kind. They’re aware of it, didn’t have time to find a workaround, and will fix it soon, but I really think they should have just skipped the grand opening (which they might not have been able to because they got a design award from Apple). That’s just not acceptable, especially in a program that’s available in a for-pay version.

 

I don’t think there’s been an Apple event that hasn’t been disappointing since the initial iPhone introduction, eighteen months ago. Between technical problems and the lackluster lineup, today is yet another bad day for Apple fanboys.

I’ve actually never been so tempted to jailbreak my iPhone.

12 July

13 July

Tiens, depuis combien de temps je n’ai plus de boîte vocale sur mon portable ?

14 July

Wow, my bank has an animated 3D favicon while the page loads.

Too Human (360 demo)

It’s finally make-or-break time for Too Human: someone out there has decided that the game’s reputation was so bad it needed a demo — or maybe Dyack just thinks the game is so great it will stand out on its own. And it seems to be a meaty demo; in fact, I have no idea how long it is, because I got bored and didn’t finish it.

I wasn’t starting with as bad a prejudice as you might think (because I hate Dyack and every interview he’s ever given): in fact, I did like the main menu and the character selection screen (as cheesy as it seemed in the preview videos, the overall atmosphere and the music make the thing work). Then there was the introduction cutscene that immediately placed the game back in its tracks: it looks like an upscaled cutscene from an early PS2 game with a little more lighting effects — poor modeling all around and particularly on the characters, and boooring writing without an ounce of humor or cynicism. Welcome to the 1980s of videogame design. “Aesir Corp?” Ooh, that’s funny and insightful or something. Matrix glasses? Why, how modern and original!

Anyway… this is a game, so all can be excused for the sake of gameplay. Only it seems to me that, when you remove the part about leveling up your skill tree and managing your inventory (which I hate and is really not something the general public wants), it’s even less interesting than Assassin’s Creed: I guess that you can try and make more intricate combos of some sort, but there’s nothing pushing you to do it, so the average gamer will just go through empty hall after empty hall (like I said, 1980s) just flicking the right stick in the general direction of the enemies. And occasionally pressing the triggers to use guns.

It’s really a strange combination: with the inventory and all, it’s like Mass Effect without the story (well, maybe Too Human’s story becomes interesting, but clearly the universe definitely isn’t, because it doesn’t feel the least bit real) or the user choices or, really, the combat gameplay. Yet Mass Effect managed to please both hardcore and casual gamers, by offering to auto-assign skill points and largely assisting combat, while giving the option to manage everything by hand and aim at enemies like a real first-person shooter; whereas Too Human doesn’t spare you any minute detail of your character’s evolution (unless I missed an option somewhere) but offers the most hands-off combat I’ve ever seen in a game (and, to do so, inflicts awkward controls and poor camera on the player). I just don’t see what audience can really enjoy this.

15 July

E3 2008: Day 1

Since I’m not in one of those periods when I think I can make Beware The Frog into your one-stop shop for all news and commentary about video games, I’ll just focus on the few bits I have an opinion about.

Let’s start with the general aspect of the Xbox’s software redesign: in an unexpected move, Microsoft finally ships a product that really looks like a consumer electronics device rather than a computer (wait, I forgot the Zune 2 — but who doesn’t?). It looks like there might be more “clicks” to access some options, but everything’s prettier, friendlier, more accessible. A very definite win.

On the other hand, there are those avatars who completely look like upscaled miis (even the eye choices are the same; I suppose going all-out anime would have unsettled the more hardcore audience) and have mostly fugly faces; I hope I can buy a 200-point Cylon mask at some point (or a Spartan helmet for lack of a better option).

It’s nice that Microsoft was able to take all of Home’s much-touted functionality and ship it in a nice, straightforward menu system, but it’s still puzzling that there wouldn’t be a real virtual universe for your avatars: what’s the point then? As much as I dislike Home (more for the undiscriminating hype it initially received than its real capabilities), it doesn’t make that much sense to give you avatars if you’re not going to have any place for them to… I don’t know, walk? It’s okay for the Wii because, well, it’s a cheap piece of crap really, so you don’t expect much, but Microsoft’s avatars should definitely find better stuff to do than sit around in Scene-It. If our customization options for the new Xbox are more constrained than gamerpics and blade themes used to be, we should at least get to actually play with our new toys.

Among the less important additions to the new firmware (support for 1680x1050 is nice, although I’m surprised it wasn’t there already), I’m really interested in the ability to copy games to the hard drive and play them from there: if the PS3 game installs are not any indication, that should give much better performance to some games. (Because, unlike the PS3, all games will still be designed to work from the DVD, so the hard drive’s speed could only be beneficial.) A great motivation to buy an overpriced 60GB hard drive, hoping the new functionality works with existing titles — which it should, if they were clever when they designed the console

 

As for games… well, nothing spectacular, really:

  • The Gears of War 2 CG trailer is a missed opportunity: it could have been in-engine and look almost as good

  • The Halo Wars CG trailer, even though it has absolutely no relation to the gameplay, seems to prove that you can actually make something gritty, realistic and modern in the Halo universe, and Halo 3 didn’t need to look like it was powered by Playskool

  • I like how the new Mirror’s Edge gameplay trailer picks up exactly where the previous one left off, but other than that it doesn’t show much of interest (and the final song makes me wonder if EA might actually screw it up after all)

  • Fallout 3 looks kinda pretty, but it still has some of that Oblivion-ness that I can’t quite describe but deters me from playing it (more apparent in the live demo, but the video quality is not representative of the game’s graphics)

  • The Fable 2 “pub games” (Keystone, Spinner, Tower of Fortune), which you can play in-game or on XBLA to earn gold, seem to all rely on chance, which is stupid (and the live demo didn’t show anything new, apart from a wife speaking at the door for ten minutes while the players were elsewhere)

  • I don’t know what Hydrophobia is, but it’s a pity Bioshock didn’t have that technology

Ah, le doux son du marteau-piqueur en été, quand il fait trop chaud pour fermer les fenêtres.

Set up port forwarding for your Xbox 360

You figure that, since your Xbox does see and connect to the internet, everything’s fine, and so did I; turns out that it is not actually normal for the console to hang for thirty seconds every time you try and join an Xbox Live game. I’d read about this before, but never bothered to set it up, and it does make online gaming that much smoother.

The link above has a detailed walkthrough, but the quick technical brief is: give your console a fixed IP address, and forward ports udp 88, udp 3074 and tcp 3074. Voilà, instant matchmaking.

The wings of an angel brushed my hair. Only it was a pigeon.

Phantom Fish - Byline

I’m not going to pay $10 for a Google Reader client when (1) the iPhone-optimized Google Reader web app is perfectly usable, and free (2) the official Google iPhone application, which doesn’t do much and isn’t available outside the U.S. at the moment, will soon offer the same functionality and it’s free (2) NetNewsWire doesn’t do Google but it’s free.

But it’s one of those moments when you really, really wish NetNewsWire hadn’t been bought by Newsgator. Because it would have had been able to sync with Google Reader for a while, now, if the developer was still free.

16 July

E3 2008: Day 2

I only realize now: Animal Crossing is the inspiration for GTA IV’s most annoying feature, isn’t it? “But if you don’t show your face back home for too long, your neighbors will miss you.

I can’t believe the “Wii Motion Plus” (ugh) unapologetically does just what the wiimote was originally supposed to be designed for, and it ends up being an accessory that you have to buy and plug into your wiimote — and it doesn’t seem like Nintendo intends to build this new technology into future wiimotes, either. What the hell? Not to mention that I don’t think the Wii actually needed more precise motion control; unless you’re using the wiimote to control a real-life robotic arm that handles plutonium bars, precision isn’t really that compatible with efficient gameplay, does it? Don’t Wii Sports or Wii Music work precisely because you can make very approximative gestures?

On the other hand, it’s nice that Nintendo finally realizes that there’s a value to voice chat in games. Especially when you’re not on Xbox Live, but safely within the confines of your redundant friend codes. Wonder how good the quality can be with an omni-directional mic sitting on top of the TV, though.

 

The Infamous visuals look a lot like GTA IV, don’t they? It’s a much better camera view (and the graphics are infinitely nicer) than Prototype, but I can’t quite imagine from the videos what it would be like to play, and that’s not usually a very good sign.

Resistance 2 still doesn’t hook me. In the same way as Bioshock didn’t appeal to me until I played the demo, now that I think about it.

I Am Alive has a cool introduction trailer, although the main character’s face is a little weird. I hope there are no monsters in the game; it would be a nice break. (But I can’t help but expect radioactive mutants somewhere down the line.)

The Ghostbusters trailer has to be the worst I’ve seen in a long while (well, actually, the Haze male model in futuristic armor wasn’t so long ago): mixing gameplay footage with real-life movie clips is a big no-no, as it focuses attention on the fact that video games still don’t look real; and it’s only made worse by the fact that the original Ghostbusters footage from 1984 actually looks like shit. Comedies weren’t entitled to professional directors of photography at the time.

I have no idea what fl0wer is about (or maybe you control a gust of wind?), but it’s got to take a lot of CPU to animate all those blades of grass.

I’m not linking to the God of War 3 trailer because it’s all CG and really doesn’t say anything at all (oh my god, there’s Kratos! and he’s angry!); and I’m so not buying Spore for iPhone.

Prince of Persia

This one gets its own post, because it’s the first “Holy shit” moment I’ve had since the beginning of E3 announcements. It starts with the totally unexpected music and atmosphere (since Gears of War’s “Mad World,” everything is possible), and follows with stunning graphics. From what you see on screen, it looks like it ought to be gameplay, but at the same time it’s very hard to believe.

It better not play like Assassin’s Creed.

“Using a File Erasure Tool Considered Suspicious”

But the wiper programs don’t ensure a clean getaway. They leave behind a kind of digital calling card. […]

I have often recommended that people use file erasure tools regularly, especially when crossing international borders with their computers. Now we have one more reason to use them regularly: plausible deniability if you’re accused of erasing data to keep it from the police.

RT @textism: 1. Oatmeal, coffee, cigarette.

2. Long walk with the dogs.

3. OTHER WAY AROUND IDIOT.

17 July

E3 2008: Day 3

It’s confirmed: Prince of Persia (continued here) is the game of the show. The graphics are insane, and gameplay seems very well thought-out, with a nice, clever sidekick giving a body and voice to hints, double jumps and checkpoints all at once — it sounds absurd, but you need to watch the video to see how it makes total sense. And you absolutely have to watch the second video until the end. Stunning.

LittleBigPlanet needs to replace PowerPoint in every business presentation from now on. (It does confirm, by the way, that Sony should scrap Home and replace it with sackboys.)

It’s hard to tell for sure with the video’s quality, but Star Wars: The Force Unleashed seems to be the first iPhone game not to look like crap — using the good old tricks from the DS of integrating characters (which may or may not be live 3D, I’m not sure) on a prerendered static background, all of that on a vivid, high-resolution screen. But, of course, the gameplay seems to be just about as interesting as Dragon’s Lair.

Adding a bookmarklet on your iPhone

The Twitterific iPhone application has a very clever trick: in order to let you interactively add a bookmarklet to Mobile Safari (adding it on your desktop computer then syncing your bookmarks will never be a viable option as long as iTunes will sync all your bookmarks rather than a separate folder specific to your iPhone), it sends you to a page on iconfactory.com that includes the bookmarklet’s Javascript in the URL, and displays instructions to bookmark the page, then edit the bookmark to remove the http part.

It’s a very simple, low-tech workaround that they explain much better than I did here.

18 July

E3 2008: Day 4

No video today, but some bits of information — and it’s the last day already? That was short. And mosly uneventful.

Spore has an endgame: the space phase doesn’t let you aimlessly roam the galaxy forever (although I’m sure you can if you really want to) but lasts fifteen to twenty hours, and has a fixed “twist ending.” Wanna bet the “twist” duplicates the end of Men in Black?

The LittleBigPlanet sackboys will lip-synch to voice chat (why don’t all games do that? it’s not that hard!) and Stephen Fry’s voice guides you through level creation. You wouldn’t think it was possible, but: nerdgasm++;

Now that Star Wars Galaxies is way beyond any kind of revival, the KOTOR MMO is officially confirmed, and it’s actually developed by Bioware. Which may or may not bode well for the introduction of a Mass Effect MMO after the trilogy ends.

De Blob has an iPhone version, available now and using 2D sprites, so it may not burn through the battery or boil the processor, but I have no idea how it plays so I’m not going to buy it until there’s a demo (or at least a video).

 

Testing Twinkle. Scrolling messages doesn’t lag a bit.

I used to come home, dock my iPhone and pick up listening to my podcasts right where I left off. Now it takes ages for iTunes to back up.

19 July

Not sure what I think of that Dr. Horrible thing.

20 July

Forget about privacy on iPhone apps

Why is it exactly that App Store developers seem to have a common tendency to ignore their users’ rights to privacy? After the Loopt debacle (which most of my readers may not know about, because the app isn’t available outside the U.S.: it basically sent a list of all your contacts to the Loopt servers — with little or no warning — and spammed them all with SMS messages specifying your current location — every single one of your contacts), I now find out that I should probably not have recommended Twinkle to my friends.

Twinkle is a cute, functional and efficient Twitter client for the iPhone (unlike Twitterific, which isn’t really usable in its current state) that hooks into the developer’s private servers to geotag your tweets and display Twitter activity close to your location (which works as advertised, and is cool). It never warns you, however, that your Twitter login and password are being saved on Twinkle’s servers* (so that tweets can be stored and resubmitted later if Twitter fails — it’s mostly** well-intentioned, which doesn’t make it okay that a native, local application saves your credentials on a third-party server without asking). Or that your tweets will appear in the Nearby tab even if you set your Twitter account to private (with all that’s happened before, it’s very naive to think Twitter accounts marked as private actually are, but that’s no excuse).

How on earth does a developer launch a 1.0 version on the App Store and think those things are okay? Wouldn’t those people be upset if Firefox saved their banking passwords or personal messages on Mozilla’s servers? It’s exactly the same — especially with people’s propensity to use the same password on everything they log into (not their bank, but e-mail accounts, Paypal, etc.) — except I’d trust Mozilla much more than a little shareware developer (like I trust Google, and maybe I shouldn’t) to store my data with reasonable security.

It’s pretty likely I’m never checking out a Tapulous application again.

 

* I posted a comment requesting clarification, but it’s been “awaiting moderation” for several hours and more recent comments have appeared, so I’m taking that as a confirmation.

 

** I say “mostly” because their real motivation isn’t so much serving your needs as it is to launch their own social network, Friendfeed-style. Incidentally, Friendfeed works perfectly well without asking for my Twitter password.

 

21 July

Hmm. Ressortir pour acheter un grec-frites ? Après tout, c’est pas tous les jours Noël.

Une chance que je n’habite pas sur Châtelet-même, sinon ça serait sandwich aux frites à tous les repas.

Ils ont mis une backroom au Raidd et personne ne m’a prévenu ?

22 July

I know how to fix Twitter using flat files on a memcached-like architecture. Wire me $1 million and we’ll talk.

“Is Aurora Feint the iPhone’s first Spyware?”

Seriously, what the fuck is wrong with these people? Developers thinking it’s somehow okay for a game to make a local copy of the user’s address book, and uploading it to the dev’s servers without any kind of notice? Can you imagine if World of Warcraft did that?

I want to revert to firmware 1.0. This App Store thing is getting scary. You know what? That is a good reason to complain about the iPhone’s closedness: it takes hackers running ssh on jailbreaked phones to find out when a developer does something weird; very few developers would try to pull that kind of stunt on a computer, because people run hard drive monitors and packet sniffers all the time.

Encore désabonné d’un podcast accidentellement, connerie d’iTunes. Qu’est-ce qu’il y avait après (feu?) Pédérama ?

23 July

Hmm, on peut faire envoyer ses colis Amazon en poste restante ?

Oh, I’ve just had an idea for a new site. It had been a while.

I waste way too many CPU cycles anticipating that the guy taking out his wallet is going to cut my path to reach the ATM in 14, 13, 12 secs.

Please, Apple, give us a Javascript geolocation API and let’s forget about those hungry crashy native iPhone apps.

I had forgotten how good Mobile Safari was. I missed that good iPhone experience.

24 July

There’s finally a free Sudoku on the App Store, and I can’t remember the strategies to place the numbers.

A-Team R/C Car

That van was some iconic product placement, by the way.

 

Modal overlays beyond the dialog box

An interesting writeup about what the author calls “modal overlays,” and I usually name “inline popups” such as the many dialogs on Facebook, or the preferences window on the web version of MobileMe.

It is uniquely powerful at quieting these nervous questions. “Where am I?” is a non-starter because you never left the original screen. And “How do I get back?” is trivial when the original screen remains visible in the background.

I’m going to start thinking about using that kind of tricks. (Which goes for Ajax, as well.)

It’s a good rule of thumb to think that if elements in the same context all have the same size, then they must be equally important. Apple’s Preferences modal applies the same principle to the scale of entire screens. The preferences screen is itself smaller than the browser window that plays host to the more important screens full of real data.

Wonder how many blowjobs it would cost me to get someone to do my laundry.

I love M-L Parker, but Weeds is such a display of failed natural selection I can’t take it anymore.

25 July

La Star Academy qui emménage à 100 mètres de chez moi ? EPIC DO NOT WANT.

Looking for a domain name for my blog.

So proud of a domain name I found, but do I want my personal blog’s title to reference the Xbox ?

Speaking of, qui a une suggestion pour regrouper “regarde l’écran” (images) et “regarde la vitrine” (objets) en un “regarde quelque chose” ?

Is half the internet down or is that just me?

26 July

Fun tip: it looks like the iPhone’s Notes app switches to Helvetica if you type Japanese characters.

Speed up iPhone synchronization

You’re unlikely to have much data on your iPhone that isn’t synchronized from a computer; so do you really want to spend minutes waiting for iTunes to back up your phone every time you plug it in? I know I’d much rather lose some stupid game saves than wait ten minutes before I can resume listening on the computer to the podcast that was playing on my phone when I get home.

This might not be a big deal if you only plug your iPhone in to charge the battery and don’t need to sync often (in which case you probably use the AC adapter anyway), but here’s the simple Terminal instruction to disable backups:

defaults write com.apple.iTunes DeviceBackupsDisabled -bool true

Steve Jobs is, like, totally fine

Jobs calls a reporter: “Hi, you’re a moron with no ability for fact-checking but, just so you know, I don’t have cancer anymore and I’m totally fine (but you can’t quote me verbatim on that)” and the conclusion of the article is that Steve Jobs is totally fine.

29 July

Je me demande à quel point c’est plus facile de draguer dans la rue quand on n’est pas myope.

Ethereal Rug

Too bad you’ll probably need to wash it every week.

Beijing Olympic Greens

I want the baby dragons (those are dragons, right?) in the patio of my hôtel particulier. Particularly since I’ve just watched season three of Avatar.

Charybdis

The video is muddy but this looks like it must be interesting to see in person.

Palringo

The first multi-IM App Store client is available, but considering the number of privacy snafus that already happened on the platform I’m going to wait a bit for people to analyze it before I install software released by an alternative and/or complementary messaging network I’ve never heard of before. But, by all means, please knock yourselves out and tell us how it goes.

1Password for the iPhone

The application “free for a limited time,” and considering how the App Store works there’s a reasonable chance that it’ll remain free forever to anyone who download now (there certainly are workarounds if the developers really want to charge you later, but I don’t think it’s quite their style), so you should probably at the very least download it now, just in case, even if you’re not sure you’ll want it.

Getting a web browser on my iPhone that can auto-fill passwords is so tempting it might convince me to buy the desktop application (I had a free license for a while, but every new browser release requires a 1Password update, and I definitely miss it now that all the browsers on my Mac are incompatible with my version), but I’m still resisting because I don’t like the idea of having to use an add-on to have auto-fill when it should be standard functionality, and more importantly I’d really rather not have to use 1Password’s integrated browser instead of Mobile Safari (no matter how Safari-based it is, obviously). And, yeah, obviously that’s also Apple’s fault.

Meanwhile, the iPhone application’s interface for entering new passwords on the phone itself is pretty much unusable (you have to type the URL and the field names, instead of just saving the data from the password prompt as you do on the desktop), so the application is just about useless if you don’t have the latest version on your Mac in order to synchronize your passwords over wifi (with secure encryption, according to the description). But 1Password is an excellent program that I recommend wholeheartedly, and encrypted over-the-air sync sounds very good.

 

P.S. Oh, I forgot: it can also store password-protected, encrypted notes. So, you see, there’s a reason to download it even if you’re not a 1Password user. (If you need to secure notes on your iPhone, I think 1Password is a good choice of an application to trust.)

30 July

RT @textism: Since I started using Twitter I no longer get songs stuck in my head, just individual notes, syllables or the occasional sample.

apt-get update; apt-get upgrade; # God I love Debian so much. If only my other webservers were as easy to maintain.

My iPhone has a blue pixel in the middle of the screen. Just when I’m gonna want to sell it. Gee, thanks a lot for that.

Disabling iPhone backups (2)

The first trick to getting around an epic iPhone backup is simply to hit the (X) button in iTunes’ status window during the backup process. This will stop the backup and begin the familiar sync process, but clicker be warned: doing this will leave you with a corrupt backup since iTunes apparently trashes each backup on the fly when beginning a new one. Smart move, Apple. We guess we should be thankful that Time Machine doesn’t exhibit the same behavior.

That’s… ugh… geez, really, Apple, backups, security and all that shit don’t go well together. Mind-boggling, honestly. (As pointed out earlier, it’s not like Time Machine is much more reliable.)

 

Meanwhile, I love that the writer named his device “I, Phone” (even though the pun must have been obvious to many people for a while — I’m not too good at puns).

Cracked iPhones

Oh, bother. Why am I not surprised? Why am I so ready to believe it’s true without waiting for further proof and checks?

When I get to upgrading my iPhone, I hope we’ll know whether the white shell is actually more fragile, or the cracks are just more visible.

31 July

Si j’avais su qu’il ferait chaud aujourd’hui, je n’aurais pas fini Ringworld cette nuit quand je pouvais faire autre chose.

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