Where’s My Free iPhone Stuff?

I’m anxiously awaiting the release of Tweetie 2 by Atebits. I purchased Tweetie for my iPhone back in January and the desktop app in April. I think they are both amazing applications and I use them almost exclusively to interact with Twitter (particularly given the Twitter web interface’s scripting vulnerabilities). They are both simple and wonderful apps which deserve the design awards which they have been given. I was surprised to see some criticism of Atebit’s plan for charging for the new versions; mostly brought to my attention by following Gruber. One paragraph from this rather long post just floored me:

The whole ‘it’s a completely new app’ argument seems like utter bullshit to me. It is still a Twitter app for **** sake. A slew of new features and functionality does not, to me, make it a different app. I don’t see anything that says this is not just a very much beefed-up, improved version of an existing app – it has the exact same ultimate purpose of making it easy and effective to use Twitter on the iPhone.

Try re-reading that sentence replacing Twitter with your favorite desktop application’s name and iPhone with computer. It starts to hold a lot less water. He goes on to argue that there should be a upgrade price for existing users, which I agree would be great. However, I’m not sure that upgrade pricing is possible in the crazy world of Apple’s App store (certainly not straight-forward, at any rate, for either the developer or the consumer). Atebits feels that this represents enough work on their part to warrant full price for anyone who wishes to use the product. Though no examples come to mind, I doubt this is unprecedented in the world of computer applications and thinking that an iPhone is so different ignores the full-featured platform this device is (which is becoming true of all mobile devices, really).

Time will tell if charging full price for (what appears to be) a significant upgrade is the right choice. Further, we’d be kidding ourselves if we ignored the relative costs here. At a full price of $2.99, a reduced upgrade price couldn’t really save much. You’ve only got a few price points between $3 and free, none of which represent much of a different economic hurdle (though, it could be argued there is a large chasm between free and $0.01).

It appears to me that the author of this post really values Tweetie at nothing and, if that is the case, that is exactly what he should pay for it. Tweetie 1.x will continue to work just fine for the foreseeable future.

For my part — as you have already no doubt guessed — I’ll be happy to pay $2.99 for the upgrade. I’m amazed every time I view the list of apps on my phone which have new versions for downloading to see that none of them charge upgrade prices. I’m astounded that this is the case and it seems unsustainable for me, at least for indie developers. The app store has a lot of growing pains yet to be worked out and this will ripple into the larger, future market of mobile applications sales.

In the meantime, let’s be happy to reward months of hard work with the same amount we tip the waitstaff at a burger joint. Remember Mr. Pink’s diatribe about not wanting to spend a buck or two on that in Reservoir Dogs? He might have a point on principle, but he looked like a cheap jerk, too.

I Think You Know Why I’m Calling You

John Graham-Cumming recounts his successful efforts to have the British government formally apologize for its treatment of Alan Turing:

On the bus home I heard directly that Alan Turing’s nieces had many memories of their Uncle Alan. They even still had his teddy bear. I hung up and sat at the back of the bus and cried quietly. I had always felt that Alan Turing’s treatment was appalling, but to hear the family speak of the man was too much. I was convinced that I had to see my campaign, which had started on an impulse, to its completion.

Graham-Cumming did all this in a little more than a month and as he states "most of it from the top of a red London double-decker bus using an iPhone." I’m personally thrilled at his success as it has been a long time coming. Whether we know it or not, Turing played a large part in all of our modern lives and certainly the recent history of Britain.

Eight Years and Still Suffering

It’s been eight years today since the coordinated attack on New York and Washington D.C. in which almost 3,000 people perished. Most of us have gone on with our lives; I know that feels like a lifetime ago when I recall where I was and what I was doing. However, for many of the first responders and residents in lower Manhattan, life hasn’t gone on. I watched the documentary Dust to Dust: The Health Effects of 9/11 earlier today after thinking about these people. I suppose I had the impression that ill health effects from the recovery and clean-up efforts were limited to a few individuals. If this documentary is even half true1 (and it does seem legit based on some additional reading I did today), the effects were far worse than I imagined.


It is tragic how the people that the nation — and indeed the world — lined up to thank as heroes have been treated since. The documentary lays the blame at the EPA and the Bush administration for mishandling the health issues and rushing back to a sense of normalcy (something which was not without reason; though doesn’t justify the lack of safety precautions). Once we learn about the treatment of these people who ran toward danger and worked tirelessly to help, we all get to shoulder some of that blame, too. We cannot allow people who serve the public to be treated as throw-away tools. It is entirely disrespectful to their sacrifice and it ensures that no one will step up to fill these roles for future generations. I’ve not found anything that suggest these individuals are asking for handouts. They want to be treated with the respect deserved them, those responsible for placing them in unsafe conditions to be held responsible, and to get the care they need. That’s really not asking for much, in my opinion.

So, if you can find an hour to spare, I highly recommend watching this documentary. This isn’t some left- or right-wing political agenda film. It is a intimate look at how modern America, in her rush to get back to our normal way of living, has indeed forgotten about some of those we swore we never would forget.

Incidentally, he documentary is narrated by actor Steve Buscemi. Buscemi, as it turns out, was a former New York City firefighter and returned to New York on Sept. 12 to help aid in recovery efforts for a week. Though no mention is made of this in the documentary (nor if Buscemi himself suffered in ill health effects), he clearly is in a position to help speak out about such an issue.

  1. It is sad in light of such a tragedy that I feel the need to have to include this but I want to be clear that I am not some conspiracy theorist nor am I looking for something to complain about the Bush administration. This just strikes me as a very real and ongoing problem associated with the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. []

DVDs and iTunes

This has kind of been bugging me about iTunes for the past year or so. I had some tiny hope that it would be addressed in iTunes 9, but of course it hasn’t:

Why aren’t DVDs played in iTunes like CDs are, instead of a separate uni-task app (DVD Player)?


Okay, I understand clearly why Apple isn’t going to allow users to rip DVDs using iTunes. But iTunes has clearly moved beyond just audio (or Tunes, as it were) and now stores videos, movies, TV Shows, and even mobile applications. With iTunes Albums (for music) and iTunes Extras (for video), it has become the mac’s digital media repository. Some of the changes in iTunes 9 reflect this evolution.

What makes this even weirder is that DVDs are present in Front Row, which has always seemed to me like nothing more than a pretty, full-screen interface for iTunes. Why, then, isn’t DVD play just integrated into iTunes? All of the extra features in DVDs could easily be accounted or without adding much to the interface with the same simple controls any remote offers and the heads-up display in iTunes video already has.

OS X has loads of interface inconsistencies; most of which are easily overlooked by the vast majority of its users (especially if they came from Windows1). However, this is a functional inconsistency that seems confusing to me. As iTunes has now supported video for some time, many users might expect a more consistent treatment of entertainment on an optical disc.

  1. The way Windows treats DVDs is not only confusing, but actually downright pathetic. Windows Media Player will recognize a DVD and add it to the media list. That’s where the convenience ends, unfortunately. That’s because Windows doesn’t come with a codec that will actually play DVDs. Instead, you have to purchase a third-party DVD Decoder, even if in the so-called "Ultimate" editions. A cryptic error message indicates that you need to do something to get Windows Media Player to play the DVD, just not what. And Windows Media Center (the equivalent to Front Row) doesn’t even show a DVD at all (though it might once you’ve paid for something Microsoft should have included in the OS).Windows7_RC_Media Player []

So What Does Health Care Look Like in Other Countries?

So, what does health care and insurance look like in other countries? T.R. Reid answers five common misunderstandings about other countries’ health care and insurance systems:

In many ways, foreign health-care models are not really “foreign” to America, because our crazy-quilt health-care system uses elements of all of them. For Native Americans or veterans, we’re Britain: The government provides health care, funding it through general taxes, and patients get no bills. For people who get insurance through their jobs, we’re Germany: Premiums are split between workers and employers, and private insurance plans pay private doctors and hospitals. For people over 65, we’re Canada: Everyone pays premiums for an insurance plan run by the government, and the public plan pays private doctors and hospitals according to a set fee schedule. And for the tens of millions without insurance coverage, we’re Burundi or Burma: In the world’s poor nations, sick people pay out of pocket for medical care; those who can’t pay stay sick or die.

For some more myths about health care reform, you can visit FactCheck.org (a site which is routinely name-checked by honest people of both parties) or CNN Fact Check on President Obama’s address tonight.

What It Says and What It Does

Ars Technica reports that the FCC asked the public how and if the term "broadband" (as in internet connection) should be defined, after it had proposed that "basic broadband" as simply 768kbps to 1.5Mbps (as in connection speed). They also seemed to think that this should be based on the actual speed that providers have, as opposed to what they claim in advertisements.

Sadly, the providers had a few issues with this. Mainly, they’d like to define what is broadband based on nominal speeds, not the actual speeds they provide. They argue that it is complicated to determine actual speed (never mind that there are countless sites to assess your current connections speed when a provided wants to sell you a different service). Even worse, they don’t want to have the definition tied to any applications (that is; video, torrents, gaming, VOIP, etc.). That way, if they decide to conveniently turn off a service on their pipeline, they can still call it broadband.

So what if you can’t actually do anything with it? It’s still fast! Well, in theory, anyway.