The Talking Heads


Something for the whole blogosphere to learn:

 You start a conversation
 You can't even finish it
 You're talking a lot
 But you're not saying anything
 When I have nothing to say
 My lips are sealed
 Say something once
 Why say it again?

“Psycho Killer”, Talking Heads

I understand David Byrne’s desire to never reunite with the group, and that the last concert tour was as perfect as it gets, but wouldn’t it be awesome to see them back together, anyway?

iOS Feature Request: Calendar

When I type an event into the Calendar app, I’d like it to attempt autocompleting any names or locations I type in. Facebook does that as soon as I start typing a name in, with no signifier. Twitter does it after you type the “@” in and I think Google+ will do it after a “+”, but Facebook does it from plain text. It just knows you’re typing a name and gives you options from your contact list.

When I’m typing in an event in iOS 6 and start typing a name or location, I’d like for iOS to recognize that and offer up autocomplete suggestions in a dropdown. It might be more consistent with iOS standard right now to offer up one suggestion in the same way the autocorrect spelling does. That’d still be helpful.

For example, if I say the location for an event is “Robert MacGuffin’s House”, I’d like iOS to suggest “Robert MacGuffin” after I get to about “Robe”. That would be cool.

Just a thought. . .

iPad Mini

So, yesterday, I made some last minute Apple event predictions. I was wrong on everything. Sorta.

The one part I did get right is Apple’s move away from the numerical naming convention. They launched a ‘new’ iPad today, which is really just a mid-cycle revving of the internals of the device. It makes it fast enough to feel like a new devices, yes, but it’s still just swapping in newer parts for older parts. Everything else stays the same. It’s not a new number device, you know? And Apple can do that easily without marketing hassle because it’s just “iPad.” It is the same way they rev the internals of their computers as time goes by. There might be a new faster processor introduced that they can slide into last year’s laptop. There’s no event to monumentally launch it. Sometimes, there’s not even a press release. Apple just updates the specs on the website, and it’s done.

They can sort of do that now with iPads, even after just seven months. They’re not held back.

As for the iPad Mini, itself: $329 is too much to knock out Amazon and Google, but it’s plenty cheaper enough to attract some new buyers. It’ll be more attractive to schools, who don’t want to pay $399 or $499 for full-sized iPads. There’s likely a slight discount, too, for larger educational purchses. That’s huge, particularly as they continue to sell iBooks into schools.

So the iPad Mini will have its fans, but it won’t destroy the rest of the competition. Maybe next year they can unveil the retina iPad Mini (not “iPad Mini 2”) for $329 and lower this iPad Mini down to $249 or even $199 and wipe everyone out.

The best trick Apple pulled off today was in showing how ridiculously thin the new iMac is. It’s a great photographic trick. They were very careful to show it only from the one angle where you didn’t see the bulge behind it. Once you see that, the illusion is ruined.

What will I be buying? None of the above. I don’t need any of them, and I don’t get paid to be a tech pundit, so there’s no tax write-off. I’ll be getting an iPhone 5S in a year, probably, though. Can’t wait!

Apple Event Prediction Time

Tomorrow’s iPad announcement will keep the name “iPad” for the entire line. There won’t be an iPad “Mini” nor an iPad “Nano” nor an iPad “Air” nor even an iPad “Junior.” Apple has been laying the groundwork for this for a while now, and it’s something that makes sense.

Apple sees the iPad as the new computer, so they’ll want to name it like one. There are multiple models for each of its computer lines: iMac, MacBook, Air. In the iMac example, there’s a 27″ version and a 21.5″ version. They’re not named “iMac” and “iMac Mini.” The MacBook comes in a variety of sizes, including the Pro part of the line-up, which refers to a feature set, not a size difference. There is no MacBook “Nano” or MacBook “Mini.”

When Apple chose to do away with the numbering of its iPad line last spring, it was a precursor to this week’s announcement. From now one, you’ll order an iPad, whether it’s a 10 inch screen or an 8 inch screen. Just “iPad.” That’s why there’s no “iPad 3,” because that would confuse everything.

I also wouldn’t be surprised to see the iPad 2 go away after this announcement. The new smaller iPad replaces it. In fact, Apple may even pitch this as an iPad 2 replacement, at an even lower “more incredible” price.

I’m guessing the price will be $299, for what it’s worth. $199 is wishful thinking. $249 is do-able, but Apple likes its profit margins too much. $299 it is. It’ll still sell like hotcakes.

Apple’s Podcasts App Tip

The Podcasts App is a truly horrible piece of programming. Apple should be ashamed. It’s awful.

My biggest complaint lately is that it doesn’t sync up properly with iTunes. Today, I finally figured out what you have to do to get sync working correctly. You need to kill the Podcasts process all together before syncing, or else it’ll never copy podcasts over to your phone. Don’t just close it, but then double tap the Home button and press on an icon until it gets all wiggly and you can tap the “X” in the corner to kill it all together.

Now, if only there was a way to remove a podcast from the app. No, not an individual show, but the show as a whole. I have one podcast whose RSS feed changed recently, leaving behind a duplicate obsolete feed that I can’t remove. I signed up to it through the app originally, I think, and not through iTunes, so I guess it doesn’t have a clue. So annoying.

But I continue to use it because it does sync up with iTunes and it has the 30 second skip button. So I’m stuck with it for now. Ugh.

Post-Mortem: iPod Nano Color Analysis

A tweet from John Siracusa could net your blog 4,000 hits. It worked that way for me, at least. Not that any of those 4,000 will stick around, but it’s a fun ride while it lasts.

On Sunday night (September 30th), after spending probably far too much time in Skitch and Pixelmator, I had made an image I thought might be popular in the Apple blogosphere/podcast-o-sphere. (That can’t possibly be a word, but this is the internet. Neologism was invented just for it. Wikipedia tells me so.) You can read the whole story behind the image alongside it at the original blog post.

After proofreading the text, I tweeted it out into the world. Those were my first two mistakes. First, I missed the obvious mistake where I referred to the “iPad Nano” twice in the post, including the headline. (The image file name had it right, though.) Second, I used the Twitter website to post the link. I walked away from my computer, came back an hour later, and the tweet was still sitting there in the textarea on the web page. It hadn’t gone out. I keep forgetting that hitting the “return” key doesn’t send a tweet. You have to click the “Tweet” button. It happens with me and the Twitter web page all the time. I still haven’t learned.

So I made the correction and off it went. I used to shorten my URL so I could track the stats on this post, in case it turned out to be popular. I was thrilled a few minutes later when I saw I had 97 hits. Since most of my Twitter “following” comes from the comic book world, I knew that kind of number had come from someone on the Apple side retweeting me. Sure enough, @Siracusa did it.

bar chart of visit in first hour after the writeup on Twitter

Less than an hour later, 1200 people hit my humble blog. I don’t get a tenth of that on a daily basis anymore. At the height of this blog, I may have had a couple hundred people visiting every day. These days, I doubt I have more than a few dozen reading what I post. It’s my fault. This blog has no focus and I don’t update it regularly enough. Both are kisses of death. This isn’t so much a commercial enterprise as it is a place for me to spout off on the random things I like to write about, so that’s OK.

By the time I got to work and checked the stats again, I was over 3000 hits. That’s when I started to panic that I blew it. My blog is in no shape for this kind of traffic. Is the front page cached? Will anyone know who I am? Will anyone care? The blog is a mess. It violates most sane blogging practices. I’m trying to fix some of that with the new engine I’m writing for it, but it’s a little embarrassing in the meantime.

where everyone came from when my site got Tweeted

Interestingly, some Monday afternoon hits came from people more interested in fashion. The link had some legs (no pun intended) amongst a fashion twitterati blogger or two. That helped.

By noon, the initial boom had trailed off. Readers were still trickling in, but like most “viral” posts, this one had already peaked immediately and faded off to (what I think will be) a very short long tail. The post didn’t make the Follow Up section of the next Hypercritical podcast, so there wasn’t a second bounce at the end of the week. (Still, it was a great episode talking about App Dot Net. Well worth listening to.)

By Tuesday afternoon, the hits were down to nearly nil at Bit.Ly. One other interesting thing I learned: Google Analytics saw nothing. At some point in playing with my WordPress theme months back, I must have deleted that bit of JavaScript and never added it back in. Whoops. I’ve now corrected that, to discover that my readership today is, indeed, in the dozens.

At the time of this writing, a week later, my total hits through the link stands at 3,909.

Good news: Nothing ever crashed or so much as scratched. Bad news: I see Express ads for colorful jeans on every website I visit.

Like I said, this blog is a total mess, but I’m hoping to get better soon. And for a couple of hours, it felt good to be “well-read.” It gives me a little bit of encouragement to still dream “bigger” and work harder on more things.

They Track You

You know what happens after you spend a day working on a blog post that becomes very popular?

After one popular blog post, I get lots of Express ads

The cookies track you while you’re off doing MySQL research, and you see your blog post everywhere.

I have thus far been immune to the persuasive powers of the ad. I still own no colorful jeans, skinny or otherwise.

Express ads, they haunt me

Searching on Ruby stuff leads to more Express ads

Posted in Web

Maybe This Will Help?

YouTube has the single worst batch of comment trolls ever seen on the internet. YouTube makes 4Chan look like MasterPiece Theater. It makes the worst of the heady days of AOL seem erudite. It makes the average comic book message board flame fest look like child’s play.

Today, when starting a reasonable and sane comment to the site, YouTube stopped me to let me start posting under my full name, pulled from my Google+ account under the same ID. I like this idea:

You Tube Warning: You Are Now Using Your Full Name

But, then, I’m not flame baiting and trolling and acting like a nasty 14 year old boy who just learned a new dirty word and feels the need to tell it to the world.

Will this help YouTube? I don’t think anything can help YouTube anymore. Really, just ignore the comments there. Better yet, get a plug-in for your browser of choice to help block them out. (This one has versions for Chrome and Firefox.)

Bands Backed by Orchestras

First, there was Elton John:

Then came Meat Loaf:

(Yes, same orchestra in Australia.)

There were video recordings for both of those, by the way. I’m not sure if the Elton John one ever made it to DVD.

The Wiggles just did a series of performances in Australia with an orchestra, but did not record it. What a wasted opportunity! (I have a three year old. I’m a big fan.)

Coming this December: O.A.R. is performing with an orchestra in December as a charity concert. There’s not a video recording being made of it, but it will be recorded for audio download on the usual website. I’m very excited for that one. In the meantime, O.A.R.’s Red Rocks concert will be available on CD in November, and there is a DVD/Blu-ray release at around the same time. You can pre-order “Live on Red Rocks” through Amazon.

(Yes, I realize there were other bands who’ve played with orchestras. I know Metallica did one, too, for example. I don’t like Metallica.)