1 juin 2010

Once — Except for one slower bit (or maybe it’s the song I found boring) it all works.

Decisions, decisions. What would you eat tonight if you were me?

2 juin

Socialite can now be ad-supported (because that’s the only business model that works in this field); that could be nice.

Forget it, my iMac can’t handle Socialite (or vice versa; that’s just ridiculous).

“AT&T announces new data plans, unlimited data nowhere to be seen”

As of June 7, however, any new customers wanting the all-you-can-eat data buffet will be left hungry — and that includes new iPad owners.

The new plans will come in two flavours: the 200MB DataPlus plan for $15 per month, and the 2GB DataPro plan for $25 per month. If you go over your allowed usage, data will be charged at $15 per 200MB on the DataPlus, and $10 per GB on the DataPro.

How is that possible? How does Apple commit to the iPad’s advantageous data plan and not have AT&T locked into it by contract? We’re in refund territory now — if not deceptive advertising — for people who ordered a 3G iPad before today and haven’t activated it yet.

This has to mean that the carrier exclusivity in the US is expiring this summer. And that AT&T wants to… actively sabotage its chances of getting any new iPhone contract after that. Hmm. Well, I can’t find anything that would make more sense — I can’t imagine that Apple would have signed a five-year exclusivity deal that didn’t mandate the unlimited data plan, as that was the iPhone’s whole paradigm.

Interestingly, Apple’s iPad page hasn’t been updated yet.

Glee 1.21 — Is it just me or does it feel like we missed an episode? The story’s already stupid enough as it is.

Amelia — No good whatsoever. Poor Hilary Swank. (But gorgeous shiny plane.)

I’m glad the Blur betademo is back on. I’d almost consider buying the game if there weren’t more interesting releases just about now.

3 juin

Je rêve, ou “Advil Tab” c’est exactement la même chose qu’Advil, mais avec la liberté pour le pharmacien de fixer un prix plus cher ?

4 juin

Theory: people who enjoyed the Lost finale are those who like Star Wars better than Star Trek. Discuss.

“Video of a man exposed to total vacuum”

Remember the boiling tongue water story from yesterday’s post about how long a human can last in the vacuum of space? (Nevermind that, I blogged about exposure to vacuum here a few months back.) Here’s the video of that depressurization event, with the participants taking about it.

Don’t go there looking for a high-speed close-up of the guy’s saliva boiling — they weren’t expecting a failure, and just documented the experiment from afar. But the testimony, simple as it is, is fascinating.

There shouldn’t ever be a debate again as to whether such-or-such character could survive a brief exposure to vacuum while jumping from ship to ship with no suit on. (But you’re still allowed to debate the risk of irradiation, and the possibility of staying conscious for more than a second.)

Oh, I finally received Google’s “Change background image” button. Interface is annoying and result is meh, as expected.

Oddly, I think it’s the first time the rampant speculation isn’t along the lines of “Mac Mini supplies dwindling, cancellation imminent?”

“MobileMe account type changes hint at upcoming tiers”

Infinite Loop alum David Chartier alerted us this morning that his MobileMe account type had changed from “Family Pack” to “Full Member.” Turns out that several MobileMe subscribers have reported having their account type change, fueling speculation that Apple will announce tiers to MobileMe subscriptions next week during WWDC.

Interesting: I wonder where will be the cutoff point between free and paying members. Over-the-air sync has to be part of the free plan, otherwise there’s no point at all (nobody cares about the @me.com addresses nowadays; that ship sailed when they killed the existing accounts that were supposed to be free for life), so could it be that the full membership will give the long-awaited reliable cloud storage for all your iTunes music, and more?

5 juin

I can never tell if Echofon’s acting up again or everybody’s just out tonight, having a life.

I wish Transmit could encrypt & decrypt files on the fly so I could easily back up personal stuff to Amazon S3.

When they introduced the new retweets, didn’t they say you’d be able to ignore retweets from specific people? Where is that switch?

6 juin

You know, the way my Twitter timeline goes deaf-mute on Friday and Saturday evenings if the weather’s good? Yeah, that’s not gonna work.

Doctor Who 5.10 — That was all kinds of gross.

Avec internet, 300 € de plafond CB mensuel, c’est vraiment pas possible. Surtout quand on a des rentrées (donc des dépenses) irrégulières.

7 juin

“Apple’s Magic Trackpad revealed?”

Yes, please! I’d order it immediately. (Unless it’s only available as wireless, in which case I’d hesitate for five minutes, then order it.)

“2010 Ars Design Award winners for Mac OS X software”

Best New Mac OS X App: Transmit 4. That’s the FTP application that makes dual-GPU laptops switch to the high-power one… for an FTP transfer. Okay, it’s arguably a design flaw in OS X rather than Transmit’s fault, so how about this instead: it’s the 4.0 that makes the app’s most unique and useful functionality, DockSend, ten times slower than in the previous versions.

Best Mac OS X User Experience: Tweetie for Mac. No, it’s not. It takes half your screen to display what most other apps can condense in a third of the space, and makes the user experience arguably less pleasant and immediate for most users (I’m a geek, so I don’t mind, but don’t tell me that having to click a tiny button or use a keyboard shortcut to post a tweet is good OS X user experience).

Most Innovative Mac OS X App: Dropbox. As far as I’m concerned, Dropbox is ineligible for any Mac-related awards as long as it maims your files beyond salvation by ignoring the resource fork — silently killing your web shortcuts, clippings, and apps. That’s been my pet peeve for a while, but with good reason, I’d argue.

 

And, regardless of my objections, those choices are horribly obvious and uninteresting. All I’m saying is, maybe Apple did just fine to drop Mac software from the WWDC design awards this year.

Stevenote 2010.06

Back then I wrote that it was unpossible Apple would go with this design. Guess I lost that one. I acknowledge the validity of Steve’s explanation for the seams in the metal casing, it’s clever (and more importantly I appreciate his addressing the complaint of how un-Apple-like that thing looks), but I’m still not happy with it.

On the other hand, I’ve got the hots for the high-resolution screen (despite the ridiculous name), the processor and battery life, and the 720p video capture (which we should have expected, but forgot to). Pretty on the inside, and a pretty face as well (as in, the screen), so all in all I’ll forgive the unimaginative body and pre-order mine as soon as I can.

 

FaceTime: Don’t care, never have, never will. Not surprised that it’s wifi-only “for now,” but wondering why it isn’t called iChat, and doesn’t interface with iChat. Is AT&T really trying to pretend that people aren’t using every possible medium rather than spending money to send SMSes? (Actually, I’m afraid I have to admit it would make a difference if the Apple included an internet-based text messaging system on the iPhone. So it does make sense.)
I’m also really curious as to how they’ve implemented the system: your contact list will apparently know automatically, without any input from either party, which of your contacts have iPhones 4. Are you happy with Apple having (presumably) a secret list of all the phone numbers of iPhone 4 users? More to the point — is that quite legal in every territory where the iPhone is available?

Retina display: So, yeah, that name is only a little less stupid than “FaceTime.” I never dreamed that existing applications would be allowed to take advantage of it, without the developers even needing to recompile and resubmit their apps. I can’t wait to see this thing in real life, through my defective… retinas.
Even without the other additions, this alone would make me drool for the iPhone 4.

720p video recording and 5MP camera: I’m not willing to make any judgment based on the samples posted on Apple’s site; what matters is that you always have your iPhone in your pocket, so it doesn’t matter how much it can or can’t approximate the results of a professional camera (well, it matters if iPhone shots do look like they come from high-end cameras). Now that iMovie is ported to the iPhone (which, wow) comes a burning question: how the hell are you supposed to live with an iPhone limited to 32GB?

iBooks was fully expected, and should indeed go along splendidly with a high-resolution screen. Interesting, by the way, that it’s now a full-fledged PDF reader — I’m not even sure I should still bother with my plans for a fanzine publishing app for iOS (ugh, also) devices.

I can’t imagine for what purpose a gyroscope would ever be necessary. But, hey, Wii Motion Plus has got one, and everybody says Apple is the new Nintendo, so gotta have one too.

I find it pretty interesting that Google remains the default search engine in Safari, despite the introduction of Bing and the praise it just got from Jobs. Or is it contractual? Now that I think about it, maybe the iPhone’s access to Maps et al. is tied with Google being the default search engine.

I hate that there’s a version with a white faceplate, because some apps’ design (case in point, the app I’m working on right now) is based on the idea that the screen is surrounded with black, so you can try and mesh with it. So now you have an app in the center, and a tiny black border around it (the white faceplate can never be quite flush with the contents of the screen), and then white. Ugh. Can’t design for that; I’ll just go on with my life as if the white iPhone didn’t exist at all.

And the upshot is: this thing is damn hot, and I can’t wait to get it. Have to see now what upgrade options my carrier is going to offer.

 

But where’s everything else? Where’s my trackpad? And Safari 5, and MobileMe for free, and so on? I can see the trackpad being silently introduced soon, and Safari being presented by someone else during WWDC, but MobileMe for free — that would be a major functional upgrade for the iPhone, more than worthy of a keynote mention (especially as a weapon in Apple’s cold war against Google). So, not coming this year yet? But it can’t just be a coincidence that the “Full Member” language appeared on MobileMe accounts just a few days before WWDC.

 

And my trackpad?

 

My trackpad!

 

Come on, I want my trackpad!

8 juin

How the fuck is it okay for both Pages and InDesign not to automatically update the table of contents on printing?

“What’s Truly New in iPhone 4”

With a “why gyroscopes” video. I’m somewhat convinced, although I still don’t think the iPhone — which unlike a wiimote includes the screen you’re looking at — really needs it. But, okay, why not.

Also, I missed that FaceTime was supposed to be an open standard. And I don’t quite see how that’s possible, in respect to the magical aspect of the FaceTime button automatically appearing on your contact list where appropriate. Or is that “an open standard with a directory maintained by Apple”?

“Daring Fireball: iPhone 4 Impressions and Observations”

One thing that Apple didn’t mention in the keynote, though, is that the LCD pixels are much closer to the surface of the touchscreen. […] They’re using a new production process that effectively fuses the LCD and touchscreen […] The effect is that the pixels appear to be painted on the surface of the phone; instead of looking at pixels under glass, it like looking at pixels on glass.

I noticed that in the photo/mockups on Apple’s site, but chalked it up to an overeager Photoshop editor.

Again, I can’t wait to see this beast with my own eyes.

Safari 5 is out indeed

The “Reader” button (which triggers a nice enough interface) appears instead of the “RSS” button. What the hell? And there’s a “Reader” option in the “View” menu, but nothing for RSS.

I can’t believe they’re finally implementing extensions, though — and they’re made with HTML (but signed with developer certificates for maximum annoyance).

Ah, Safari 5 now has 3D transforms on PowerPC as well. Cool.

Note to self: must remember that besides not trusting third-party vendors on Amazon, I’m always irked by the compulsory evaluation form.

“David Foster Wallace on iPhone 4’s FaceTime”

Good old traditional audio-only phone conversations allowed you to presume that the person on the other end was paying complete attention to you while also permitting you not to have to pay anything even close to complete attention to her. […] And yet — and this was the retrospectively marvelous part — even as you were dividing your attention between the phone call and all sorts of other idle little fuguelike activities, you were somehow never haunted by the suspicion that the person on the other end’s attention might be similarly divided.

“Pulse iPad App Gets Steve Jobs’ Praise in Morning…Then Booted From App Store Hours Later After NYT Complains”

“The Pulse News Reader app, makes commercial use of the NYTimes.com and Boston.com RSS feeds, in violation of their Terms of Use. Thus, the use of our content is unlicensed. The app also frames the NYTimes.com and Boston.com websites in violation of their respective Terms of Use.”

You thought stupid terms of use on websites were funny and quaint. Turns out they can get your $100,000 success of an iPhone app pulled from the App Store.

(Worst part is, NYT isn’t quite in the wrong there, at least about the first part of their objection.)

“Thoughts on Safari 5”

Turns out you can click and hold [on the Reader button] to show the RSS button. Why hide such an important feature in this way?

I had tried right-clicking, but not click-holding. Still silly. (Kinda more silly, actually, because it shows that they were aware of the UI conflict, and resolved it in the poorest way.)

9 juin

Et vas-y qu’iTunes copie la keynote Apple de 1,27 Go sur mon iPhone sans me demander mon avis.

“Father of webOS notifications leaves for Apple”

The man who “Invented the non-intrusive banner notification system used in webOS” and also did all sorts of other work for the OS, Rich Dellinger, is leaving Palm to return to his earlier employer, Apple, as a Senior User Interface Designer.

No way — Steve Jobs is hiring back people who defected from Apple to Palm?

Or maybe Dellinger doesn’t know yet that he’ll be pixel-perfect cleaning the latrines.

A fucking cougar just killed my handsome stallion.

Scratch that; two fucking cougars killed two of my horses in succession.

10 juin

Online Media and Safari Reader

If your users are using a third-party product to make your product usable, you are doing something wrong.

Activating Safari Reader has a cognitive cost. If your users are activating Safari Reader on your site, this means that the default user experience of your site is so bad that your users first consciously notice that they have trouble reading an article on your site, then remember that they might be able to fix it using Safari Reader, and then actually activate that feature. […]

Don’t fight Safari Reader. Instead, make it obsolete.

“Duncan Wilcox on Touch Content Creation”

To a novice user, aiming at something on screen with a mouse is like trying to ring a doorbell using a broomstick.

The amazing thing is that after a while we completely forget that first experience and how absurd it is — this is why many in the tech community fail to see how huge the iPad is.

Toujours à la recherche d’un très bon dév iPhone pour réaliser une appli selon mes specs. Genre : Twitter for iPhone.

“Remodium”

Remodium allows you to remotely interact with an Adium session on your Mac from your iPhone or iPod Touch. You can view existing chats, resume existing chats, or start new ones!

FI! NAL! LY!

(But I’ll wait until it’s compatible with a stable release of Adium.)

 

I’m curious / worried about how they implement push, though. Here’s hoping there’s not silly enough to actually pipe the whole conversation through their servers, but just provide a place for Adium to ping when there’s content to update.

Goddamnit, Safari deletes .safariextz files when it adds them, and doesn’t even put them in the trash. Let me manage my files!

Zero Punctuation : Red Dead Redemption

Heh, I forgot to mention: the very first thing I did as soon as I got to Armadillo was… shoot a dog. Bam, $5 bounty (with not a penny in my satchel), and I have no idea why I did that.

I also like how Yahtzee captures the satisfaction of shooting your first fucking cougar after you’ve been killed several times by its cousins.

11 juin

“WWDC Keynote WiFi woes may have been due to iPhone 4 drivers”

Phil Kearney said, “My experience in the wireless space leads me to believe that there may be a bug in the firmware or the driver for the WiFi chip in the iPhone 4.” Belanger said of what he saw of the iPhone 4 in the video, “The failure mode was different” than what typically happens with congestion or a connection problem, like “there’s something funky like having that many SSIDs.”

The article mentions that both of the control iPhones 3GS in the demo were not having trouble with wifi. I’ll have to trust them on that, as I haven’t watched the keynote video yet, but furthermore you can expect that, if 500 MiFi access points were active, the people using them must have been actually able to use them — if they all had been failing, some of them would have gotten turned off, and the journalists would not have been so reluctant to turn their MiFis off when Steve asked.

Hopefully it’s just a software problem, as the article proposes, but I have to wonder why the iPhone 4 and 3GS used in the demo would have been using different versions of the OS.

already have an iPhone that’s incapable of connecting to my wifi network; I don’t need to buy a brand new one that’s just as screwed up.

“Twitter Support : What’s happening with the World Cup?”

To help Twitter users show support for their country (or adopted country) - we’ve created hashflags, which will operate just like regular hashtags but will also display the flag of the country you’re tweeting about. Hashflags will only display if you include the pound sign “#” followed by the country’s three letter FIFA code.

Did you want to tweet about what’s happening in a country, unrelated to the World Cup? Well, screw you then; everybody’s supposed to talk about the World Cup so you’ll do as you’re told.

Twitter is extremely close to jumping the shark now. (Same thing with re-shortening already short URLs to keep control over them — and ultimately sell accurate analytics at a premium — yet not actually exempting your URLs from the 140-character limit, even though it’s utterly useless to send http://t.co/ links to SMS users.)

Wow, the OS X download for Flash 10.1 is a Universal binary. It learns! It does learn! Slowly.

“webOS™ for iPhone Developers – Palm Developer Center”

The snippy potshots at iOS actually discouraged me from reading all the way to the end. Android can afford to position itself as the great liberator of all developers but, if Palm, in its last throes, wants to court iPhone developers, it should probably show a little more humility now, and acknowledge that we’d be doing it a huge favor logging some time away from Apple’s platform that we mostly enjoy.

There’s no salute in trying to go after disenfranchised iPhone developers, since Android already covers that demographic more than adequately.

“Apple considering two WWDC per year for iOS and OS X?”

We’re hoisting the rumor flag on this one, but Hardmac are reporting that Apple may be considering making WWDC a twice-yearly event. According to one of their “most reliable sources” the Cupertino company is looking at the possibility of two developer conferences, one dealing with the freshly-named iOS (for iPad, iPhone and iPod touch) and the other focusing on Mac OS X.

That would be the best news of the year. And it would make a lot of sense. (Of course, then we’d feel insulted by how much smaller WWDC-Mac is than WWDC-iOS.)

I want the space screensaver they played behind the last Colbert Show interview. Why doesn’t Snow Leopard include that?

Holy shit, the Flash Player 10.1 installer worked flawlessly on both of my machines and didn’t make me reboot.

Moi, ça m’inquiète, le nid de frelons dans la télé du salon.

12 juin

The depressing atmosphere of Red Dead Redemption is having a visible effect on my mood.

14 juin

Glee 1.22 — You can’t try and make a tearjerker finale in a show that has such little grip on reality. It just doesn’t work.

I’m so traumatized by Red Dead Redemption’s cougars that I have a little adrenaline spike every time I see the cat move in the hallway.

15 juin

“360 250GB “Slim” hands-on, full details”

I won’t be convinced by everyone on the show floor saying that they find it sexy when they see it in real life: I just don’t like the design. But a smaller console, with less noise, less heat, better connectivity and a 250GB hard drive for the same price as the existing model — all of that sounds pretty good, even in an awkward package.

Funny that they didn’t announce the “Arcade” equivalent of the new model, yet did confirm that they’re not manufacturing the old console anymore, but waiting for stocks to wear out. It’s not like anyone can believe they would kill the lower price points and only keep the $299 option, so they’re really aiming the old consoles still on the shelves at suckers.

I’m quite impressed by their pulling a Google at the E3 conference, offering a brand new 360 to everyone in the audience; all in all, the keynote had a fairly uneventful lineup, but was really well done (except for the random hipster — loved when one of the devs he introduced thanked “Lorenzo Lamas” and the guy went, in the background, “what the f… fuck!”).

“GameStop gives Kinect $149.99 price”

US retailer GameStop has whacked up pre-order offers for Kinect and various Kinect games, revealing that it intends to charge $149.99 for the add-on.

While its standalone Kinect for Xbox 360 listing carries that price tag, a separate “Kinect Arcade Bundle” - perhaps meaning an Xbox 360 and Kinect, or perhaps meaning a software package - is listed for $299.99.

I’m not sure that GameStop actually knows more than we do (I don’t think they’re above pulling the price out of thin air, and I’m somewhat surprised that they’d have gotten a definite price even though the thing will only launch in November) but the point is that Microsoft didn’t name a price during their keynote, and at this point in their media plan it can only mean that it won’t be cheap.

This is mind-boggling because, apart from the consultancy fees to imagine that dreadful name (which, to make matters worse, is apparently pronounced “connect”), the thing is just a couple of webcams and a tiny motor! (Okay, I know, the magic is in the software. But the thing with software is that you do make it up in volume.)

Chances are they’re counting on the $299 pack to seduce non-gamers who bought a Wii. That price point is indeed affordable, but there are two big mistakes here: First, those people have already bought a Wii, and I doubt they can easily be convinced to spend $299 again for another console they won’t use (much) either. Second, the Wii’s success was mostly viral, and existing 360 owners would love nothing more than demo Kinect to their relatives in order to convince them to buy one — if the standalone Kinect was cheap enough for them to be interested. At $150, a huge majority of them will not be.

Ubisoft introduces home laser tag that interfaces with your PC. It’s all Barney Stintson’s fault.

The new Mac mini

Pretty. And expensive. But it does get user-upgradable memory and, apparently, a decent video card.

And still no trackpad on the Apple Store to accompany the new Mini.

“The Sun Launches £4.99-A-Month iPad Edition”

Another interesting point - The Sun has managed to get around Apple’s infamous bans on sexually explicit content - Page 3 features in the replica edition.

Fuck. That. Bullshit.

It’s hard enough to deal with the asinine shifting censorship policies of the App Store, but the idea that Rupert Murdoch gets an exemption to show naked breasts is absolutely unacceptable.

The Zelda presentation is a complete mess, but it’s very interesting they’ve given up on pointing at the screen, and use MotionPlus instead.

16 juin

“PlayStation Move coming in September starting at $50”

No, it’s not, and I’m disappointed to see that headline on Ars Technica. Move “starts at $50” for people who only want the main controller (i.e., without the nunchuk), intend to play alone, and already own a PlayStation Eye. Who the hell does?

PlayStation Move starts at $99. Which is relatively reasonable, except that it still means it’s for only one player and doesn’t include the nunchuk. (Not to mention that some games, such as the bow simulator, seem to require two main controllers for a single player.)

 

At least now there’s no way Microsoft can launch Kinect at $150. (I hadn’t realized that the reason why they didn’t announce a price yesterday might just have been that they wanted to see what Sony would do.)

“ICCIDs IMSIs and iPads, Oh My!”

So yeah, knowing someone’s ICCID can give you their full unpublished billing name, their cellular phone number (and hence their home address), their current location on a realtime basis, their voicemail, and if you’re prepared to follow them around (within a few miles) then you get all their phone calls and SMS messages too.

Turns out the problem with AT&T’s vulnerability wasn’t in revealing the email addresses of White House staff, but their SIM card IDs.

And that kind of stupidity is why Obama had to jump through hoops to be allowed to use an off-the-shelf Blackberry.

Red Dead Redemption (360)

Have you ever wondered what a GTA game would be like if it took its story seriously? If it had human characters, a realistic atmosphere, desolate brown trees with a ten-mile draw distance, and goddamn motherfucking cougars?

Well, a masterpiece is what it would be.

 

I don’t like westerns, so I didn’t expect to enjoy myself that much — but I couldn’t resist the universal praise and, more importantly, the splendidly animated fauna in the videos. And, as a matter of fact, I didn’t enjoy myself so much in the first half-dozen hours. Yet I could tell that the universe was great, the characters were more believable than I’d ever seen in a Rockstar game, and the game mechanics were sound. (Not to mention that the animals were, indeed, gorgeous. And horse riding felt like riding a horse, which is not such a given when you’re coming back from Assassin’s Creed.)

Then I really got into the story, and I really got depressed. Because that’s a damn depressing universe, the Old West in the early 1900s, wouldn’t you know. The graphics are bleak (but gorgeous), the story is bleak, every single character is miserable and the side missions make you want to shoot yourself in the head. Like I said, it’s a realistic story that takes itself seriously — and the fact of the matter is, that wasn’t a nice place and a nice time to be.

Where I felt closer to giving up, though, was around the midway point of the game, when you unlock Mexico and the story essentially reboots — new characters, new quests, and the same arc starting over in the most predictable way. But it just takes a few hours to realize that Mexico actually provides a breath of fresh air: the story is still cynical and disillusioned, but the dialogue is funnier, the environments look less murky, and they’re even less dangerous. A welcome respite, before you go back to America and get that grim story over with. (Sorry if you consider this a spoiler, but I figured out that structure as soon as I realized the boundaries of the — huge — area you’re restricted to as you start the game.)

And what an ending you get then. That’s about all I’ll say about it, because I don’t want to give out hints, and I don’t want you to think too much about it either, because in retrospect it’s not all that hard to guess what might happen. You just don’t see it coming. At least, I didn’t. And, if other people had seen it coming, the review scores wouldn’t have been so good.

There are two things Red Dead Redemption does splendidly, that you don’t expect from a GTA-like game. You know it’s gonna be superb, and immersive, and basically a state-of-the-art sandbox, but you don’t expect these: human characters brought to life with subtle hints (yes: subtlety), and fantastic pacing of the story, both the main arc and the sidequests.

I still can’t get over how well-designed, well-rounded that experience is — those perfectly weaved together forty hours of gameplay. There are adrenaline highs and there are slow trudges, but it’s all part of a plan to make you inhabit the world and bring you to that ending. And I realize some people could say the same thing about games that I found boring, but the bottomline is those people would be wrong, and I’m right about Red Dead Redemption. Because, beyond technical excellence (I know, not the right term considering all the glitches, but they don’t matter) and pitch-perfect voice acting (except for Junior — though that might as well be intentional, because it ultimately serves the buildup), what this game displays first and foremost is a fantastic mastery of interactive storytelling. Move over, Heavy Rain. This is how you tell a story in a game.

Westerns are clichés. And they’re dirty. And so heterosexual. This game is all of those things, absolutely all of them, unabashedly — and I love it for that, and it makes me appreciate a genre I never thought I could.

Oh, and it’s also a great hunting simulator. And just an altogether pretty place to visit. But, damnit, does it give me late-night frights when I see our cat move in the dark while I’m crossing the long, dusty, weedy hallway that separates my room from the toilet. Fucking cougars.

 

This is a must-buy. By which I mean, it’s an I won’t talk to you anymore if you have a console and you don’t buy this game.

 

And I haven’t even started multiplayer yet.

 

(You might just want to turn to Wikia to learn how the minigames work, though, because they’re as complex and poorly explained as ever — including the duel mechanics. Seriously: the inline help encourages you to disarm your opponent instead of killing them, but most of the story duels will kill you if you try to do that, because the story needs your opponent dead. Ah, and I can’t cheat at poker without being detected, because the goddamn help only begins to show up after you’ve started, and failed. These things need real tutorials, not just inline help. Damnit, I hate Texas hold’em, and I need to win one game if I’m gonna reach 100% completion.)

“Impressions On Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood’s Multiplayer”

Once you get close, you can use the information at the top right of your screen, which displays a portrait of whom you’re tracking […] The game is more about stealth and perception–keeping an eye for suspicious characters, hiding when being pursued, setting traps for your target, and not giving away your position.

I can’t see the Xbox Live crowd going for that, but it sounds like a very cool concept — going for more real stealth than the single-player can afford to, because the AI would cheat (or it would feel like it did).

“PlayStation Move controller gets ray gun accessory”

That’s kinda-really cool. It nicely complements the controller’s design, and is a pretty good compromise between looking too threatening and looking too much like a toy. (But there’s gonna be some cognitive dissonance when you start playing Killzone 3 with this.)

17 juin

Forget it. I’ll never win the poker game in Blackwater, so I’ll never get 100% completion.

How the hell am I supposed to go on with my life if Google Reader is broken today?

“Mad Catz: Microsoft ceasing production of Xbox 360 Wireless Racing Wheel”

It’s Mad Catz’s understanding that Microsoft are exiting the wheel market. So, Microsoft are no longer going to be producing their first-party wireless wheel for 360.

If true, this is great news — meaning that Forza Motorsport will not be restricted to using Microsoft’s crappy wheel anymore, and we should soon be able to get Logitech wheels. Just in time to counter Gran Turismo 5, but a little too late as it should have happened in time for the release of Forza 3.

If there isn’t a free update to version 3 to support third-party wheels, I’m definitely not going to buy Forza 4.

I respect Tracey Thorn’s urge to do something different, but it’s just that nothing complements her voice as well as EBTG’s arrangements.

I’m confused; is it true that older apps actually quit when you switch away from them in iOS 4.0? Why?!

Ah, I know why: developers will have to recompile their apps for iOS 4.0, forcing their users to upgrade to iOS 4.0 to keep using the apps.

“‘So’ Pushes to the Head of the Line”

To begin a sen tence with “oh,” she said in an e-mail, is to focus on what you have just remem bered and your own con cerns. To begin with “so,” she said, draw ing on her study of a data base of recorded ordi nary con ver sa­tions, is to sig nal that one’s com ing words are cho sen for rel e vance to the listener.

Lots of interesting considerations on the growing practice of beginning a sentence with “so.” I just can’t believe that origin story.

(Quotation presented straight from the copy-and-paste. The author evidently uses invisible spaces or something to allow for hyphenation, which makes sense for an obvious language geek, but screws up when pasted elsewhere.)

“HTC threatens handset hackers with legal action for distributing ROMs”

Such is the case for the popular HTC ROM distribution site Shipped-ROMs, who allegedly just received a Cease & Desist order straight from the desk of HTC’s Legal Counsel.

According to HTC, Shipped-ROMs is stepping out of line by “illegal copying… HTC’s original art work.”

That’s nice. As the article suggests, you could argue that HTC has some sort of a “duty” to protect the intellectual property included in those ROMs but, really, it would kinda make it seem like they don’t realize the only reason someone could choose to buy an HTC phone over an iPhone these days is precisely the desire to hack their system, be able to install alternate ROMs.

Do you really want to alienate the hardcore geeks that constitute your biggest advocacy group?

“iPhone 4 Confirmed to Have 512MB of RAM”

Well, hallefuckinglujah. (In other terms, it’s about time.) Makes sense to have a more decent amount of memory if you’re gonna want to edit 720p video on the device, but — would it have killed them to do the same on the iPad?

It’s gonna be a serious bummer for developers to be limited in what they can do on the iPad because of RAM for the next couple of years (regardless of next year’s inevitable hardware upgrade, applications will have to remain backwards-compatible for a while unless they have a damn good reason not to be), when the iPhone introduced a couple months later has a more comfortable amount of memory.

We always knew that next year’s iPad would be more powerful than this year’s, and that was okay. But this timeline doesn’t work for me.

“iBooks 1.1 to offer iTunes Digital Booklet support”

According to the document, users simply need to select the desired iTunes Digital Booklet from the Music library, click Get Info, change the Media type to Book, and hit okay. The Digital Booklet will then be moved to the Book library, and can be synced like any other book.

Riiiight. That’s because, you know, Apple is all about a clear, consistent, intuitive user experience. (Well, I meant the iTunes team, not Apple. And consequently I meant “horrible mess of an UI.”)

Are downloads from Apple (Software Update and iTunes U) horribly slow for everyone or just me?

“Paul Nicklen Photography - Polar Obsession”

That image (and a couple others on the site) illustrates the photographer’s awesome story on Radiolab — in the end of the last act of their “Animal Minds” episode.

There’s no way that happened. I backed up my external drive, which I do once every two months, an hour before it died.

18 juin

Even if I have theoretically knock-on-wood not lost any data, there’s nothing like a fried hard drive to remind you of the frailty of life.

Fierce fight with the cat who didn’t want to give up hunting moths, but I’d say I won when her paw got wedged under the slamming door.

19 juin

“Google releases command line tool for accessing Web services”

I want to much to find a use for it, any use at all.

The most useful aspect is probably calendar entry for geeks, but I don’t use Google Calendar (yet).

Ce qui est insupportable, quand on fait de l’exercice, c’est que ça donne envie de manger équilibré. Non mais et puis quoi encore ?

Oof. J’en suis à 10 Go de vidéos du WWDC chargées sur iTunes U, et il en reste au moins autant à venir.

Is it a sign of maturity or the opposite that I’m tired of the so-called independence of cats and I miss the loyalty of a good dog?

20 juin

“”Login” is not a verb”

If you take only one thing away from this page, take that one fact: “login” is not a verb. Educate others. Correct manuals, software, and web pages as you find them. Tell everyone you know that “login” is not a verb. You will make a pedant (me) happy. You will earn the respect of grammar nazis. Most importantly, you will know the truth.

“The Best iOS 4-Ready Apps So Far”

This means not only does [Evernote] offer fast app switching, but it also uses some of the more advanced background APIs. For example, you can both download and upload notes while the app isn’t currently open. Even cooler is that if you start recording an audio note and then leave the app, it will keep recording.

Nicely reactive (it seems that most other developers have just recompiled to enable fast app switching — which I haven’t because I was convinced iOS 4.0 ought to enable it automatically for all existing apps… and I don’t like to install beta versions of the SDK).

Doctor Who 5.12 — For an episode like this, the writing could have been much better. But that’s an interesting story.

The scene in A Single Man where they’re both reading together on the couch, that’s what iPads are for.

21 juin

“iPhone 4 : Orange et SFR, même combat”

Du coté des anciens clients, les offres de renouvellement ont également été officialisées. Il faudra posséder 2900 points et accepter de prolonger son contrat 24 mois.

En échange, Orange offre 100 euros de remboursement sur les iPhone 4 : 169 euros pour le 16 Go et 269 euros pour le 32 Go. Même chose pour le 3G S qui avec cette offre de remboursement sera accessible à 69 euros.

Cette obsession pour les points me gonfle ; la seule chose qui devrait compter, c’est le fait que mon engagement de 24 mois expire cet été, et Orange devrait vouloir que je me réengage. Je n’ai pas 2900 points, donc je ne sais pas à quelle sauce ils comptent me manger (369 € le 32 Go ? 699 € ? aucune offre du tout ?) mais il semble clair qu’ils comptent me demander plus que ça ne me coûterait de passer à SFR.

Est-ce que c’est un foutoir mal conçu, ou ils ont vraiment, activement envie que je passe à la concurrence parce que mes factures mensuelles ne sont pas assez volumineuses ?

D’un côté, j’étais triste de quitter SFR il y a trois ans et ça ne me déplairait pas d’y retourner ; de l’autre, ma philosophie reste que l’intérêt de l’iPhone est sa simplicité et son “it just works,” et j’ai tendance à penser que ça just-worke mieux sur l’opérateur officiel qui a un vrai partenariat avec Apple. A tort ?

Not impressed with Crackdown 2 so far. And a time-limited demo, really?

Three years in, it’s absurd that updating the phone’s OS requires wiping it then slowly reinstalling several gigabytes of apps and music.

22 juin

iOS 4.0 doesn’t restore wifi on old 3Gs like mine. I’m so disgusted with Apple right now I could go out and buy an Android phone.

Et merde, le chat a repéré le papillon de nuit.

At least thanks to iOS 4.0 I’m down to four half-filled home screens.

“8 Subtle Changes You May (Or May Not) Notice in iOS 4”

The”End Call” button is now simply “End” - and a different shade of red to boot - whilst a contact’s photo now flows beneath the “End” button itself.

That’s interesting: phasing out the high-gloss double gradient (which I never really liked) in favor of a more subtle… eh, gummy effect?

 

Also interesting is the polish to Springboard’s animations when you launch and exit an app. I had noticed that it felt smoother, but not how it was different, until this article prompted me to pay more attention.

Why the iPhone 3G doesn’t have home screen backgrounds

An Ars Technica commenter:

In implementing homescreen wallpapers, Apple realised that (as is clear from many Jailbreak themes) custom backgrounds often look rubbish and/or reduce usability. To counteract this they’ve added drop shadows to all the icons and text which make it much more readable / attractive. Unfortunately this runs like crap on a 3G (and you can test this on a jailbroken device, google “enable homescreen wallpapers 3g”).

Probably true: the icons and labels inside a folder don’t seem to have drop shadows on my 3G, but do on all the 3GS screenshots.

“My Favorite iOS 4-Ready Apps and “Subtle Changes””

As first noticed by David Chartier, emoji can be used for iOS 4 folder names. Cuteness, indeed.

Damn. I wanna, but it’s too small to be really usable. Now, replacing the folder’s ‘mosaic’ icon with a big emoji, that would be convenient.

 

P.S. Scratch that, it’s usable, and super cute. (I had initially resorted to using uppercase folder names, and hated how un-iPhone it looked.)

23 juin

Erf, il n’y a plus d’iPhone 4 32 Go sur orange.fr. (Et j’ai de sérieux doutes que le 16 Go soit vraiment en stock.)

Futurama 6.01–6.02 — Urgh. “Brought back by bigger idiots,” indeed. To think that this show could have been spared the fate of The Simpsons.

Mais quel est le con qui a filé mon adresse e-mail aux spammers du Cox ?

“iPhone 4 deconstructed; antenna design a ‘work of genius’”

One last intriguing detail is that Apple is using an aluminum-based ceramic glass for the front cover (and believed to be used for the back cover as well). […] iFixit notes that the material is supposedly 20 times stiffer and 30 times stronger than polycarbonates.

Yes, they’re selling a tricorder made of transparent aluminum.

 

(Don’t ask me why the Star Trek movie traumatized me so much that I never forgot about the fucking transparent-aluminum whale aquarium.)

Crackdown 2: “Pacific City Comparison”

This confirms my feeling when I played the demo: they screwed it up. Except for co-op, they didn’t improve on what should be improved, and made it a bit worse in other aspects.

They talk about the feeling of entitlement of the last few generations, but have you ever seen a housecat?

24 juin

“iPhone 4 external antenna causing dropped calls?”

I decided earlier (thanks to Rafe Needleman mentioning on Buzz Out Loud that you oughtn’t want to have your hand touching the antenna) that I didn’t want to have an iPhone 4 without a rubber “bumper” between the metal and my skin.

But, if true, this is insane:

Over at ZDNet Rupert Goodwins has put together a decent explanation – which doesn’t require a degree in engineering – that explains why the issue might be happening. Basically, to improve reception Apple chose to put their aerials on the outside, and now they’re subject to the conductive interference of users’ hands.

Since it was such an important element of the design to have the three bits of antenna not be in contact, it would “make sense” that touching two of the antennas with the same conductive skin would interfere with reception.

But it’s appalling that they never thought of it, and that it didn’t come up during testing. Is that because they carried all their test iPhones in 3G-like protective cases, like Gray Powell did?

Comment ça il a “quitté vos entrepôts” ? Il est sûrement pas parti tout seul avec ses petites jambes, allez me le retrouver ! Ah. Oups.

“iPhone 4 discoloration a screen adhesive issue, will fix itself?”

Apple is using a bonding agent called Organofunctional Silane Z-6011 to bond the layers of glass. Apparently, Apple (or more likely Foxconn) is shipping these products so quickly that the evaporation process is not complete. However, after one or two days of use, especially with the screen on, will complete the evaporation process and the yellow “blotches” will disappear. […]

Some support site users who initially experienced the yellow blotches are now saying that, having been using their handsets for a few hours (often in relatively warm climates), the patches are no longer visible.

That’s… wow. Mother of all first impressions. (But I’m glad; you had me scared there for a day.)

Why is Adobe’s free sketching app for the iPad still not available outside the U.S.?

“Quick iPhone 4 impressions”

The $29 “Bumper” is hilarious. I think Apple is really in the iPhone-case business, and the iPhone is just an attempt to sell us something to encase. It’s day one, everyone’s freaked out about breaking their new all-glass iPhones, and they’ll sell you a “bumper” case — the only case available for the iPhone 4 in the Apple store today — for $29. Looking at this tiny piece of rubber, you really have to admire Apple for having the balls to charge $29 for it. And they’re going to sell a ton of them. The best part? It comes in a lot of colors, but today, only black is available. So if you’re really set on a teal or pink one, but are paranoid about breaking your new iPhone, you’re probably going to end up buying two of them.

Hrm. The RSS feeds I use to import my tweets onto the blog have been broken all day. If that lasts, you won’t get digests here anymore and have to follow me on @garoo.

But it better not last, because it’s not acceptable for my tweets to be locked into Twitter — I am not going to make an OAuth app just for that, and Twitter over OAuth is completely broken anyway.

Community 1.01–1.25 — Good to see there still are good comedy shows being created.

25 juin

“Apple responds to iPhone 4 reception issues”

Sometimes Steve’s snap replies are cool, sometimes they’re insulting and pathetic:

Just avoid holding it in that way.

I agree with Engadget that Apple should offer free Bumpers (it’s not like they cost more than ten cents to manufacture) to iPhone 4 users with clammy hands — until the design is amended.

It’s all the more unacceptable as it can be solved by the simple application of electrical tape. Yes, that means letting go of the raw, elemental stained steel (I know, steel isn’t elemental) that’s going to fry your hand anyway. And, no, that doesn’t mean it’s the user’s fucking responsibility to wrap their phone with electrical tape, “since it’s so simple.”

Où ils ont appris à faire les colis, les psychopathes de chez Orange ?

“Ah oui c’est normal que vous ne puissiez pas activer votre carte SIM, on est un peu débordés là, réessayez demain.”

“Apple iPhone 4 Antennas”

The iPhone 4, however, moved the antenna action from the back of the phone to the sides.  This probably improves the isotropy of the radiation pattern, but only when the phone is suspended magically in air.  Not too helpful.  Putting this iPhone 4 in your pocket will likely couple more energy into your body (you bag of salt water, you) than did the first generation model.  Yep, I predict it will be worse.

Uhhh.

A little reminder that it’s high time we got Faraday boxer shorts.

Ca va vraiment coûter moins cher à Orange de traiter tous les coupons de remboursement que de faire la réduction à tout le monde ?

When I get back to the iMac after I’ve used the iPhone, I feel like it must be broken — I shouldn’t be seeing the pixels in the letterforms.

“Apple, AT&T sued over iPad data plan change”

Today, a class action lawsuit has been filed against Apple and AT&T, claiming fraud and misrepresentation.

Well, duh.

26 juin

Interesting: iMovie for iPhone uses the Settings app as an “About…” page. Clever except for cluttering the list of app settings for nothing.

The quality loss when you upload video straight from the iPhone, even on wifi, is annoying: iPhone upload vs. full-size upload.

I wanted to keep my iPhone 3G to test my apps, but what’s the point if I don’t have wifi? I might as well sell it and buy an old iPod touch.

Wow, c’est impressionnant, Gossip Girl en VF.

24 hours with an iPhone 4

I still don’t like the design, but it doesn’t look as bad in real life as in a photograph — the device is just too small and thin and tight for you to start noticing the seams; as soon as you hold it in your hand, the very first thing that’s striking is how masterful the engineering is. There isn’t a micron of wasted space, not the tiniest gap in the assembly; you can just feel that everything fits together better than if it had been sculpted in a single block of marble.

The second thing you notice, though, is that it’s uncomfortable to hold. I don’t know, some people don’t seem to mind, but I don’t really like having it my hand: it’s way too angular. Touching it and holding it just confirms the impression that Apple has simply decided to sell the innards of their new phone as a module, a black box, that you’re supposed to clip into interchangeable covers.

Which turns out to be true in more ways than one (I couldn’t personally reproduce the reception drop when touching the bottom of the frame, but I always intended to buy a Bumper for it anyway, because I don’t want to be touching the antenna at all times).

 

At first glance, the Retina screen is noticeable, but not that impressive — that is, until you start running apps that really take advantage of it. Most obvious is Safari: it’s properly amazing to load up my blog and be able to read the small text without having to zoom. But the biggest shock came once I re-synced my photo library, updated for the higher resolution: I didn’t expect it to make a huge difference, but it does. What you have with the iPhone 4 is, simply, a slab of interactive photo paper in your hand — the most stunning way to display your photographs (until the iPad gets a higher-resolution screen in a year or two). The first iPhone already felt a lot like science-fiction, but this goes that much further.

 

And there’s the camera, which was my second reason to upgrade (after the CPU power — I’m coming from an old 3G — and before the screen, which is gorgeous but not exactly indispensible): being able to make good photos at any time, and capture high-def video.

The iPhone absolutely delivers on both of those fronts, and I’m probably going to post stuff (as in, cat videos) to YouTube semi-regularly. (Although it’s really annoying that you have to download the video to your computer first if you want to upload to YouTube as proper 720p; posted straight from the iPhone, it’s over-compressed. Thus making iMovie for iPhone perfectly useless.)

 

Upgrading from an iPhone 3G is a no-brainer (as is switching from another phone; Android phones aren’t going to catch up in any way that matters before iPhone 5 comes out). If you have a 3GS, it’s probably a tough decision — the majority of apps will work just as well for you, but the screen is an actual usability boost, and the video camera brings definite value. The best reason to stick to a 3GS is certainly that the iPhone 4 will make you look at your computer’s big obnoxious pixels with disgust (and, what’s worse, your iPad’s as well).

It used to be that Apple’s product cycle relied on making your device feel obsolete after ten months, when the new version was introduced, but with the iPhone 4 they’ve definitely fucked the iPad’s early adopters.

27 juin

Doctor Who 5.13 — Weak and annoying. Finales don’t have to always pretend to be about people dying and saving the universe.

Side-effect of iOS 4 multitasking: you can’t ignore non-crashing bugs in your app, thinking “oh well, users will restart the app if it’s acting funny.”

28 juin

Hop, deux mises à jour d’applications uploadées pour iPhone 4 et iOS 4.0.

29 juin

“Cross-browser kerning-pairs & ligatures”

Improved handling of kerning pairs and ligatures in modern browsers using the text-rendering: optimizeLegibility; declaration.

The declaration is currently supported by: Safari, The Webkit Nightlies & Chrome. Firefox already uses optimizeLegibility by default.

Odd indeed that Webkit doesn’t enable this by default. The part of my blog that’s set in Georgia Cambria instantly looks a bit better — if you look closely. (I guess there is no kerning information in Lucida Grande?)

I’m compulsively buying games since I have the iPhone 4. Pretty screen, zero animation lag, and I finally have wifi — deadly triple combo.

30 juin

Crap, iTunes is filling my Mac mini’s tiny hard drive with apps, instead of saving them to the external drive like my music and podcasts.

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