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.