July 29, 2011

Uh-Oh

CNN.com:

"News Corp. has asked New York Post employees to "preserve and maintain" documents related to possible phone hacking or bribery of public officials, according to two documents circulated to the newspaper's staff."

And then it's just one short leap to good ol' Fox "News."

Report Questions Pilot Training in Disaster

CNN.com:

“The recorders from the plane, which plunged into the Atlantic Ocean in June 2009 on its way from Brazil to France with the loss of 228 passengers and crew, were recovered in May, after almost two years on the sea bed.

The recorders revealed the pilots had failed to discuss repeated stall warnings and “had received no high altitude training” to deal with the situation, the BEA said.

It remains a puzzle as to why the pilots continued to apply nose-up input to the aircraft, even as they plummeted 38,000 feet to the Atlantic Ocean. Every aircraft is equipped with a non-electronic, mechanical artificial horizon that would have clearly shown a nose-high attitude as a result of their input. They stalled an otherwise sound aircraft.

July 27, 2011

#5byBond: The World Is Not Enough

We’re following along with John Gruber and Dan Benjamin of The Talk Show fame. This week’s #5byBond flick is The World Is Not Enough, the nineteenth film in the long-running Bond franchise, and number three starring Pierce Brosnan as the British Sixer.

It’s directed by Michael Apted, who also directed Coal Miner’s DaughterGorky Park and Gorillas In the Mist, among others. Have you noticed that things have picked up since EON unloaded John Glen from the Bond director’s chair? GoldenEye was helmed by Martin Campbell, who will return for an upcoming Bond outing, and Roger Spotiswood directed Tomorrow Never Dies. They were both enjoyable Bond flicks. Let’s see what Apted can do this time.

The film’s Bond Girl is played by Denise Richards, which doesn’t inspire much confidence after the fine turn by Teri Hatcher in the previous Bond film, The World Is Not Enough. We’ll hold our opinion for now.

Good old John Cleese, once the Minister of Silly Walks, plays Q’s assistant, and will replace the late Desmond Llewelyn in the role of Q in the next Bond film.

Samantha Bond (heh) plays Moneypenny. We could consider her Brosnan’s Moneypenny, because she appears only in the four films in which he plays the lead. No matter, she ably handles the role, one that will cease with Brosnan’s Bond.

My notes:

  • the iconic Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, designed by Frank Gehry, immediately locates the opening in the Basque country of Spain. Beautiful.
  • Bond and M appear to have reached a mutual respect, sharing a drink over the mission de-brief.
  • great action sequence commences after the money explodes. Bond’s Q-boat is cool!
  • the villainess looks pretty wicked, firing off grenades at Bond as their boats race down the river.
  • Bond riding the boat down a road and through an eatery are just a tad much.
  • she escapes to a hot air balloon, then blows it up! Top to bottom, that was a really good action sequence.
  • title music performed by Garbage, pretty good.
  • Colin Salmon plays MI6 chief of staff Charles Robinson. He was also in Keen Eddie, a short-lived cop show based in London. I liked it, so of course it was cancelled.
  • they keep good old John Cleese in the basement?!
  • a little foreshoadowing by Q, perhaps…”always have an escape plan.” This was Desmond Llewelyn’s last Bond film; was he suffering something that would have the writers script an obscured exit?
  • some complex scenery, ostensibly in Azerbaijan, greets Bond in his BMW M8 after another briefing by M. This film has a bit more depth than we’re accustomed to. Michael Apted’s direction is looking up.
  • oh, Jesus. Skiing. There hasn’t been a skiing scene since Roger Moore left the role. Just. Make. It. End.
  • what’s up with Elektra passing the ice cube from her mouth to Bond’s? Yucko.
  • Denise Richards as a nuclear physicist. Hmm. Casting against type, huh?
  • Richards says Bond doesn’t need protection under ground, because there’s only weapons-grade plutonium down there. Holy shit. Weapons grade plutonium is the more hazardous substance on Earth. Great writing!
  • after the ordeal in the bomb bunker, you get the feeling that this film is about to go downhill.
  • hah…another remotely controlled BMW. Bond keeps wrecking the German cars he’s given.
  • the action gets kinda muddy from here on. Elektra has Stockholm Syndrome, she’s in league with the villain, Renard, and they’re stealing plutonium to create an explosion with a stolen Russian sub’s reactor. Bond must save the day.
  • ooh, nice twist. Elektra doesn’t have Stockholm Syndrome…she turned Renard while she was in captivity.
  • Renard is handling weapons grade plutonium by hand. Huh.
  • Denise Richards has got some major league boobs. They look kinda like balloons. Think they’re real?

The first half or so of this one was prettty good. Brosnan makes a solid Bond, and the scenes of MI6 operations were an interesting bit of back-story. Not the least improvement, each director since John Glen has helmed an entertaining film. Denise Richards, eh. She’s the first Bond Girl whose spoken lines amounted to yammering.

With three films under his belt, this is a good time to compare Brosnan’s Bond to the previous actor’s. Timothy Dalton brought a darker, more serious, and less humorous characterization to the role. His character was written as less of a philanderer, too, a reflection of changing attitudes toward women in western culture. It was a welcome change from the caricature Roger Moore had become.

Brosnan continued the serious characterization, but added a touch more humor and flair to the role. His Bond reclaimed a bit of Sean Connery’s very early turns in the role. Rotten Tomatoes, though, gave Dalton’s two films 73% and 71%, but gave Brosnan’s outings 80%, 55%, 51% and 59%. Maybe additional humor wasn’t the right move … Daniel Craig’s more recent Bond characterization shed much of the humor to better effect.

Interesting, too, that Brosnan’s one well-reviewed Bond film was directed by Martin Campbell, who will return to direct Daniel Craig in the Bond franchise re-boot, Casino Royale.

For now, though, I think Dalton has the edge on Brosnan in the Bond role for me. I prefer the subdued, slightly sociopathic government-sanctioned killer to one who cracks wise, even one who does it with panache. It’s only a slight edge, though. Brosnan has been an enjoyable Bond, too.

Up next, Brosnan’s last run as the British spy in Die Another Day.

Apple Rumors Point to the End of the MacBook Pro Line

Katie Marsal, writing for AppleInsider:

"With Apple's new family of MacBook Airs gaining considerable traction in the marketplace over the past nine months, the company is believed to be working to introduce 15- and 17-inch models with a similar minimalist design to capitalize on the trend towards ultra-mobile computing."

What do ya wanna bet, we've seen the last MacBook Pro models with this past Spring's updates? The rumored 15- and 17-inch MacBook Airs will join the existing 13- and 11-inch models, and that will be the full line of Apple laptops.

The new Mac Mini, sans optical drive, was the clue. The only thing separating the MacBook Pro and the Air models is the optical drive (and a handful of connectors), and with the new Mini Apple has clearly said, "we don't need no stinking optical drive."

July 25, 2011

The Future of Lighting

James Holloway, writing for Ars Technica:

"More tantalizing still is the prospect that the boundary between lighting technology and display technology may cease to exist. News headlines, share prices, real time weather data, and TV pictures could all be displayed on OLED lightwalls. Transparent OLEDs could overlay windows, letting in daylight by day and becoming warm, glowing electric lights by night. And you'd know it was time to knock off work if the entire west wall of your office dynamically displayed a photorealistic artificial sunset."

Ars has a two-page, fascinating article on current lighting technologies. There's apparently a Moore's Law for lighting, called Haitz's Law, and its claim is similar: LED lumen output doubles every three years, and costs drop by a factor of ten every decade. In short, the portent of the paragraph above will happen in the next ten years. Can't wait.

British Biplane on a Manhattan Rooftop

Aircraft on a Manhattan roof

Real estate developer Robert Kaufman:

“When you’re in a building that’s higher, and you’re looking down, it’s pretty ugly,” says Robert Kaufman, the company’s president. “So we said: ‘what can we do?’ And we got the idea of putting an airplane on the roof.”

(Via The Wall Street Journal.)

Do We Really Need More Favre?

Staff reporters, writing for ESPN.com:

"Brett Favre's agent says talk of his client attempting another NFL comeback is just "speculation.""

Oh good lord.

There. Will. Be. Football.

NFL Commish Roger Goodell:

The NFL Players Association executive committee has voted to accept the labor settlement with the NFL, a source said Monday.

(Via Staff reporters, writing for ESPN.com.)

Hooray! That is all.

Michael Jackson Tribute Concert?

Alan Duke, writing for CNN.com:

Michael Jackson's mother and four of her of children called a news conference in Beverly Hills on Monday to announce a concert "in honor of one of the greatest and most loved entertainers of our time."

How can this be anything but a pathetic money grab by a family whose gravy train derailed two years ago?

July 24, 2011

Russell Brand's Heartfelt Blog About Amy Winehouse

Russell Brand:

When you love someone who suffers from the disease of addiction you await the phone call. There will be a phone call. The sincere hope is that the call will be from the addict themselves, telling you they’ve had enough, that they’re ready to stop, ready to try something new. Of course though, you fear the other call, the sad nocturnal chime from a friend or relative telling you it’s too late, she’s gone.

(Via TMZ.com.)

A very good read by Russell Brand, who has first-person perspectives on both Amy Winehouse and addiction. It speaks for itself.

Click through for the full piece, which can be found at the TMZ link if Brand’s blog is under water.

How Mike Elgan Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Apple Products

Mike Elgan, writing for Cult of Mac:

my story should be a cautionary tale for the entire industry. At this particular moment, Apple has struck upon a devastating strategy for taking control of the consumer electronics industry and mainstream computing: Build simple, elegant, functional and beautiful devices at all points in the consumer electronics chain. The cheap little devices like iPods and iPhones charm people, and build trust and affinity for Apple, predisposing them to choose Apple for the bigger-ticket items.

Elgan was the editor of Windows Magazine back in the nineties, when I was reading it. In this article he describes the insidious creep of Apple products into his life, until he found himself owning a wide assortment, including an iMac.

His description of the iPod as a "gateway drug" is apt: it's how I got started on Apple products.

July 23, 2011

A Better Way to Migrate to a New Mac

David W. Martin, writing for Cult of Mac:

"Next, I plugged the backup drive into the new 2011 MacBook Air and used Migration Assistant to copy my user accounts, applications, etc. onto the new computer from that drive. In about one and a half hours the migration completed and I was on my way."

This is a great idea for migrating all your stuff to a new Mac. The author used SuperDuper! to create a bootable clone of his old Mac system on an external hard drive, then turned the new machine's Migration Assistant loose on that. Quick and easy, and it leaves the old machine untouched, just in case. Smart.

(I've used SuperDuper! for a couple of years. It's terrific software: simple to use, yet powerful. And its author, Dave Nanian, is an interesting guy. You can catch him on tech podcasts here and there. SuperDuper! is free to try, but consider paying for your copy if you keep using it. It's cheap.)

July 22, 2011

People Want the Core Content

Shawn Blanc:

In one of his comments, Khoi articulates precisely what I think most of us would agree is the one of the core problems with print magazines that are trying to make it in digital. They are trying to add value by adding extra features instead of adding value by focusing on delivering their great editorial content in a way that is easy to get to and easy to share

Shawn gives an example from Netflix; I have another. Wired magazine. Every printed issue of Wired mentions a dozen or so extras, available only in their iPad edition. I read both the paper and iPad editions, yet I’ve only perused the extra iPad content once. After that I was only interested in the editorial content.

Isn’t that why I’m an eighteen-year subscriber?

WSJ: Apple Board Ponders ex-Jobs Era

Yukari Iwatani Kane, Joann S. Lublin and Nick Wingfield, writing for The Wall Street Journal:

“Since Steve Jobs went on medical leave this winter, some members of Apple Inc.’s board have discussed CEO succession with executive recruiters and at least one head of a high-profile technology company, according to people familiar with the matter.”

(Via @gruber on Twitter.)

Jobs says it’s hogwash, but this is only the smart thing to do.

There’s been a hush around Steve Jobs’ leave of absence. Few tech industry pundits are willing to discuss what’s an open secret: his cancer has likely returned. He’s been sighted exiting a regional cancer treatment center, after all.

When a company is hitting on all cylinders, gaining market share and piling up cash, it only makes sense that its board of directors would seek to preserve that momentum. Steve Jobs is Apple, and losing him, when that day comes, will be a blow to its execution.

Apple’s board is acting prudently, forming a plan for tapping their next corporate leader.

July 21, 2011

Andy Ihnatko on Mac OS X Lion

Andy Ihnatko, writing for The Chicago Sun-Times:

"At the same time, 10.7 represents one of those dividing lines between the Past and the Present. Modern apps will require Lion. Increasingly over the coming year, apps that run fine in 10.6 will only be used by Civil War reenactors and the people who entered a sealed environment late last year to simulate the isolation of an 18-month mission to Mars."

Andy's 5000-word Mac OS X Lion review. I enjoy his writing for its humorous tone as much as its informative content. Just one paragraph in, you can tell that he loves this stuff.

His take-away: Lion contains a few misses among the hits, but overall its $29 price tag is a steal for the benefits it brings.

Nokia Reports: Night and Day vs. Apple

Stephen Elop, Nokia CEO:

The challenges we are facing during our strategic transformation manifested in a greater than expected way in Q2 2011,” said Nokia CEO Stephen Elop in a statement. He continued, “While our Q2 results were clearly disappointing, we are executing well on the initiatives that are most important to our longer term competitiveness.

(Via Zach Epstein, writing for Boy Genius Report.)

Nokia's operating profit decreased 44% this past quarter. Gross revenue and unit sales were down as well.

Contrast that with Apple's iPhone sales in their quarterly report, yesterday. iPhone unit sales more than doubled, as did overall profits (including all divisions). And Apple did not release a new product to the smartphone market during the quarter.

Clearly, Apple is in the catbird seat these days, something relatively new in the company's history. Nokia used to be the king of wireless phones. All it takes is one well-designed, world-changing product. More or less.

Tiger's Ex-Caddy Explains the Parting of the Ways

Wire Staff, writing for CNN:

"The pair joined forces in March 1999 when Woods had won just one major title, and since then they have flourished as a partnership -- claiming 13 majors as well as a remarkable 50 other PGA Tour titles."

Caddy Steve Williams says he lost respect for Woods during Woods' sex scandal, but he's surprised to have been fired this week.

Woods hasn't won a tournament since 2009, so it's not all that surprising that he's changing things up. The problem's not in his caddy, or Woods' swing, though. It's in the golfer's head. He hasn't been on his game since his sex scandal broke.

I wonder what his dad would think of how Tiger has conducted his career, and his life?

July 20, 2011

Siracusa Does Lion: the Review

John Siracusa, writing for Ars Technica:

Over the past decade, better technology has simply reduced the number of things that we need to care about. Lion is better technology. It marks the point where Mac OS X releases stop being defined by what's been added. From now on, Mac OS X should be judged by what's been removed.

It seems like Siracusa has been hinting at his Mac OS Lion review for as long as Apple has been coding the OS. The review clocks in at 112 printed pages, or 19 pages on the web. In-depth, meticulous, exhaustive. Great stuff.

MacBook Air Replaces White MacBook, Despite the Lack of an Optical Drive

David Moody, Apple:

We found that the majority of customers don’t use the optical drive on a regular basis,” said Moody. “Things are changing. The Primary use for the optical drive was to install software, but the mac app store provides a more efficient method for doing that.

(Via Jim Dalrymple, writing for The Loop.)

One of the reasons I went for a new MacBook Pro, rather than a MacBook Air, was that I could remove the optical drive and replace it with a second hard drive for on-board backups. So I’m not using the optical drive, despite having an external model laying around. Its main duty is ripping Netflix DVDs, a task that will end here real soon now.

The only remaining Mac machines possessing an optical drive are the recently updated iMacs and MacBook Pros. iMacs can double as media centers, retaining the need to play DVD titles (no Mac possesses BluRay technology). We might see one more generation of iMacs with those drives. MacBook Pros, on the other hand, may have reached the end of their run with this year's updates. As soon as Apple can deliver reasonably priced MacBook Air models (in larger screen sizes) with 1TB SSD technology, the venerable Pro line will end. Next year?

Mac OS's New Online Recovery

Apple PR:

"If your Mac problem is a little less common — your hard drive has failed or you’ve installed a hard drive without OS X, for example — Internet Recovery takes over automatically. It downloads and starts Lion Recovery directly from Apple servers over a broadband Internet connection. And your Mac has access to the same Lion Recovery features online. Internet Recovery is built into every newly-released Mac starting with the Mac mini and MacBook Air."

(via @jsnell on Twitter.)

That's a huge feature. If you need to re-install Mac OS, but you don't have an install disk, no worries...your Mac automatically connects to Apple over the Internet and downloads the OS.

No other major OS can do that. Available on new MacBook Air and Mac Mini models today, and let's go ahead and guess all others with a firmware update down the road.

American Airlines Bets Big

David Koenig, writing for MSNBC:

"American Airlines is buying at least 460 new planes over the next five years in what it calls the biggest airline order in history. And in a victory for Airbus, it's splitting the work between the European plane maker and Boeing."

Two things worth noting: first, American is apparently playing the world's two major airframers off against one another, in order to get the best prices. A side-benefit of ordering from both manufacturers is redundancy. A slowdown, strike or technical problem on one line won't stall American's refitting program. And the two models on order, the Boeing 737 and Airbus A320, are nearly identical aircraft, so a delay from one manufacturer doesn't leave the airline short whichever type is delayed. They are interchangeable.

Second, this order says a lot about American's guess on the US economy. The full order, worth $38 billion dollars, is a large bet that air travel in the US will rebound as the economy improves, making full use of the new, more fuel efficient jets.

And there's continued employment for all those Boeing employees. Good deal, all around.

Apple's Lion Brings PCs Into Tablet Era

Walt Mossberg, writing for Personal Technology (NYT):

Speaking of Macs with Lion pre-installed, Apple also is upgrading its thin and fast MacBook Air laptops so they use faster chips from Intel. It’s killing off the bottom model of its laptop line, the plain MacBook.

This meshes with my argument from a few weeks ago, that Apple should dump the white plastic MacBook Nothing. There's been little difference between it and the base model MacBook Air for almost a year now, and with upgraded Air models arriving today there's no reason to continue that model line. The day of the iconic, white Mac laptop is finally over.

July 19, 2011

∴ Netflix, and Its Value To Their Customers

Netflix notified their customer base of an impending price change (NYT) a week or so ago. Most saw the move as nothing more than a 60% price hike, which lead to noisy dissatisfaction. What used to cost customers $10 (unlimited streaming, unlimited DVDs one at a time) will now cost $16 (unlimited for both). Trouble is, the pricing does not match the value to Netflix customers.

I got to thinking about what the price change says about Netflix's attitude toward their products, and how that differs from customer perceptions, when looking for a movie last week. Netflix, I guess, would argue that they've set the pricing equal for streaming and DVD rental because each bears its own unique costs. Warehousing, picking, packing and postage for DVDs is expensive, and distributed streaming servers and high-bandwidth connectivity is, too. Netflix is putting the two services on an equal price footing because they see the services as essentially equal, they see customers continue to use DVD rental alongside the streaming option, and they want to migrate those users to full-time streaming. They're betting those people will ditch altogether a more expensive DVD option. What does the customer see on the other side of the transaction?

I tried searching the Netflix library with their iPhone app, looking for The Matrix trilogy, Men In Black and Men In Black II. "Not available" was the result each time. They're all available on DVD, obviously, The Netflix streaming library is significantly smaller and therefore worth less to the customer. This fact will change as more content is licensed by the studios for streaming, but today it remains that Netflix customers are being asked to pay the same price for unequal benefit. That's the point worth complaining about.

Netflix should be pushing the studios for greater streaming licensing. Until they achieve something like content parity, Netflix should charge more for DVDs than streaming, and no more than $10 - $12 for both.

July 18, 2011

#5byBond: Tomorrow Never Dies

This week's #5byBond is Tomorrow Never Dies, the eighteenth EON Bond production. It's the first after the death of longtime producer Albert "Cubby" Broccoli, whom singlehandedly brought us the later Roger Moore Bond flicks, and all they entailed.

This week's villain is Elliot Carver, played by Jonathan Pryce. Pryce also played the villain Seamus O'Roarke in Ronin, one of my all-time favorite films. He makes a good, bad guy.

This is also the second Bond film starring Pierce Brosnan as the British spy. Since I missed last week's #5byBond, GoldenEye, during vacation, this is my first in this series with Brosnan.

My notes:

  • the cruise missile flying through the opening action sequence brought back bad memories of Roger Moore's endless skiing scenes.
  • a stealth catamaran is pretty cool. I want one for the pool.
  • Carver makes for a good Rupert Murdoch doppelganger. He's megalomaniacal, although no-one has ever accused Rupert of being psychotic.
  • the Aston Martin returns! Sweet auto. The story paints that old car as Bond's private vehicle, not a government ride.
  • the in-car briefing worked very well. M swills a cocktail as Bond gets his assignment, Moneypenny working the details on a laptop. Moves right along, very slick. The production looks good throughout the first part of the film.
  • Q is in the field, again! Delivering a dated, but technically sweet BMW 750. The car can be driven with a specially adapted wireless phone. There's an app for that!
  • Teri Hatcher is the Bond girl. And yes, they're fabulous.
  • Stamper as a villain is reminiscent of Red Grant in From Russia With Love.
  • Gupta is a great hacker geek. Ricky Jay has played other interesting characters, often in David Mamet productions.
  • the first hint of the Bond musical theme comes as he is escaping the newspaper plant.
  • Dr. Kaufman: torturer, marksman, bad-guy. Yet he's funny 'cause his face is droopy!
  • the missiles coming out of the roof of Bond's BMW are just goofy shit.
  • good lord, Joe Don Baker is back as CIA buffoon Jack Wade.
  • Michelle Yeoh as Chinese secret agent Wai Lin: excellent casting. They should have used her martial arts acting more.
  • Bond and Lin escape a helicopter on a BMW motorcycle, handcuffed. The helicopter can apparently hover in alleys while tilted 45 degrees forward, remaining motionless. That scene, and the hovering helicopter, were flat-out ridiculous.
  • I kept expecting to see Scaramanga's sidekick, Nick Nack, to appear on the Chinese junk Bond sailed on. Turns out they re-used the Phuket, Thailand site from The Man With the Golden Gun for this film.
  • and Bond saves the day.

This one was actually pretty good. These later Bond flicks continue to surprise me with how much better they were than the later Roger Moore examples.

The action here was, for the most part, tight, yet not ridiculous. Brosnan's Bond was efficient, though not as subdued as the previous Bond, Timothy Dalton. (I think I might actually prefer Dalton to Brosnan.) Pryce was a convincing, psychotic global media baron, a la Rupert Murdoch. Given the recent scandal at one of Murdoch's British newspapers, Pryce's performance is timely. Michelle Yeoh's Chinese agent was terrific for her martial arts acting prowess, seen elsewhere to great effect.

Things are looking up for Bond since the recasting of the lead. We have just one more Bond in the wings, but another two films before he appears.

Up next: Pierce Brosnan returns as 007 in The World Is Not Enough.

July 15, 2011

A Rose By Any Other Name...

Nilay Patel, writing for This is my next...:

So here’s an interesting coincidence: Tuesday at Microsoft’s Worldwide Partner Conference, Andy Lees said that Redmond would eventually have just a “single ecosystem” for PCs, phones, tablets, and even the TV.

and...

What we’ve been told is that Microsoft is planning to somehow harmonize not only Windows for PCs and Windows Phone, but also the Xbox operating system sometime within the next four years

and...

Our sources also tell us that Microsoft is seriously considering ditching the “Windows” brand name

(Via Silicon Alley Insider.)

So they're considering dumping the "Windows" name. That's a pretty good strategy for a brand carrying so much baggage.

As for what that ecosystem might be, Microsoft has already said they consider the tablet a PC device, so we can expect whatever they call their desktop OS to inhabit that form factor for the foreseeable future. They need to figure out the touch paradigm, though, because the mouse-centric Windows UI is what sank all tablet devices prior to the iPad.

If Microsoft is putting their desktop OS on tablets, and plans a single ecosystem for all devices, the logical conclusion is that they'll put a cut-down version of their desktop OS on X-Box, and phones, too.

I think someone else has already done that, no?

"iPhone runs OS X" - Apple, Inc.

Ford's Car-To-Car Network

Wolfgang Gruener, writing for ConceivablyTech:

"Ford’s vision is based on vehicles that communicate with each other and exchange data including their location, status and movement. The data communication happens via a combination of GPS (which provides movement and location data of cars) as well as a modified version of the Wi-Fi we use to connect our computers and other computing devices as well as consumer electronics. Ford calls this version short-range Wi-Fi, but, strangely enough, this is everything else but short-range. While your typical Wi-Fi connection is dead after 300 feet, this version reaches across a distance of about half a mile or 800 meters to 1 kilometer, I was told. Ford uses the 5.9 GHz band (defined by the FCC for such applications) and was able to increase the range by throttling the data speed to 6 Mbps and use a 100 mW transmitter"

(Via Slashdot.)

Those self-driving cars will need to know where all the other cars are. This is Ford's version of a car-to-car network.

Verizon and AT&T Phones to Remain Incompatible

Todd Haselton, writing for BGR:

“Verizon Wireless spokeswoman Brenda Raney confirmed to PCMag on Friday that the carrier’s 4G LTE phones will not be compatible with AT&T’s 4G LTE network because the phones “run on different frequencies.” PCMag explained that while the two carriers operate within the 700MHz frequency band, AT&T will operate mostly within the 704-746MHz bands while Verizon’s 4G LTE will utilize the 746-787MHz frequencies.

(From a report at PC Magazine.)

In other words, Verizon 4G iPhone customers won’t be able to switch to AT&T without buying a new phone. And vice-versa, as it is with today’s 3G phones.

July 14, 2011

July 13, 2011

Microsoft's Retail Ploy

Sam Oliver, writing for AppleInsider:

“Microsoft plans to massively expand its retail presence to take in the U.S. in the next 2 to 3 years, with an aggressive goal of 75 new stores to take on Apple’s own retail operations.”

Apple had limited availability outside of its retail web site before opening retail shops. Opening stores significantly increased their market presence in those communities. And their products are what’s driving the consumer electronics markets today: iPhone, iPad, Mac computers.

Is there any shortage of places to buy Microsoft software, or machines with their software pre-installed? How will these stores increase sales of their products over the other businesses already reselling them down the block?

This is another example of Microsoft copying a successful competitor, trying to grab a little of their mojo. Good luck with that.

A Basketball Story

Greg Knauss, writing for American McCarver:

"In a particularly American way, we are obsessed with the Great Man, even in the context of teams. We are drawn to stand-outs, even when their efforts don’t or can’t add up to a victory. Our fundamentally egalitarian society is at war with itself over the place of individual exceptionalism. Don’t make me go all de Tocqueville on your ass. My major was political science."

Another good read. It's a sports weblog, but these guys write better than the average bear. Or sports writer.

RIM Shareholders: Dumb as the Day is Long

Jim Dalrymple, writing for The Loop:

RIM’s co-CEOs and the Board of Directors were not only let off the hook, the shareholders re-elected all of the board members. According to Reuters, the preliminary count was about 90 percent support for each board member.
Not only that, a shareholder motion that would have forced Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie to give up their co-Chairman roles, was withdrawn. RIM promised to set up a committee to study the situation.

RIM is the company behind the Blackberry. It had the mobile world by the tail at one time, but its co-CEOs have been in denial since the iPhone appeared in 2007. They simply have no answer to Apple's mobile phone and tablet offerings.

A committee will be formed, issues will be discussed, a report will be generated. At the same time, their stock price will crater, their customer base will desert them, and they will be bought for chump change.

Shareholders had their opportunity here. They chose stay the course over the falls. Whee!

Google Just Slays Me

Dave Neal, writing for The Inquirer:

"The changes were revealed on the Google+ account belonging to the Social Statistics compiler Boris Veldhuijzen van Zanten. He explained that some Google+ members could no longer be tracked as they had further closed off their accounts on Tuesday. Interesting that Zuckerberg, the man so happy to gather and share so much of everyone else's data on Facebook, is suddenly so protective over his own.
"Mark Zuckerberg and Google management (Matt Cutts, Larry Page, Sergey Brin, Vic Gundotra and Marissa Mayer) all changed their profiles overnight and consequently dropped out of the Google+ top 100 list!", he explained."

Some call this irony, but irony is the use of words, or events in a situation, that convey the opposite of the intended meaning or effect. Calling the very large bouncer at the door "Tiny" is ironic. What we have here is hypocrisy.

Google's upper management have collectively discovered that the social networking service they unveiled last month offers a revealing look into user's activities by default. And they don't like that.

Gonna run right out and sign up for that! Maybe Google should have taken a lesson from The Facebook's privacy issues last year. And the year before. Privacy settings should default to maximal.

White MacBook to Survive

Mark Gurman, writing for 9to5Mac:

Since our post from yesterday that claimed new Mac Pros and MacBook Airs are about to launch, we have obtained some new information from our source, Mr. X, about Apple’s next Macs. Now that we have this info, we have determined that part numbers for new Mac Pros are not yet available. Instead, these part numbers are actually for an upgraded white MacBook and new Mac mini line.

(via Cult of Mac.)

I speculated on what Apple should do with their white, plastic-cased MacBook a few weeks ago. Looks like that won't be the course they take.

Apple claims that 75% of their computer sales are laptops. They must make a lot of money from this model.

He'll Be Back

CNN.com:

Schwarzenegger, a naturalized U.S. citizen from Austria who gained fame as the youngest winner of the Mr. Universe bodybuilding contest, served two full terms as governor until January.
Since then, he has been busy reviving his acting career and signing movie deals -- including plans for another installment of the "Terminator" series.

The first two Terminator flicks were good fun. The third was a turd. Maybe they shouldn't push it, they might end up batting .500.

July 12, 2011

A Baseball Story

Michele Catalano, writing for American McCarver:

“Then a voice beside me: “Great view, isn’t it?” I looked up to see Mickey Mantle standing next to me, grinning. I nodded, unable to speak. Me and Mickey, watching a Yankee game from the office above home plate.”

No better baseball story will be told this All-Star Game evening. Great read.

∴ Another Age for Vegas

Vegas is changing, again. We’re just back from a five-night stay at Mandalay Bay on the south Strip. Our accommodations were somewhat disappointing, but we found a few interesting places to explore, elsewhere in town, the next time we’re there.

We’ve been to Las Vegas several times. Between MGM Grand and Mandalay Bay, we’ve enjoyed plenty of pools, cold drinks and summer heat. Our first visit to Mandalay Bay was seven years ago, when it was a moderately upscale destination. The pool area was largely populated by adults, enjoying the sun. This time, though, we found that Mandalay Bay has become a haven for families with small kids, looking for a pool to splash in.

I don’t understand the logic of a young family vacation to Las Vegas. The parents can’t spend much time in the casinos, or at the bars, or splurge on a pricey meal. The kids have no entertainment other than the pool. I guess it’s cheaper than Disney World, though, since no-one can do anything that costs money.

Competition from newer, sleeker, adult-centric resorts has forced a change in direction for last decade’s centerpiece attractions. The new hotels all eschew the themed approach, instead offering refined dining, cocktail bars and quieter casinos in a refined atmosphere.

Aria, at CityCenter, is a good example. The casino slot machines are networked, and change their game based on what’s popular around the casino. There are no glaring floor coverings or loudly chiming slot machines. The casino is nicely carpeted and paneled, and the atmosphere is mildly sophisticated. It’s the antithesis of the bawdy, Downtown Las Vegas casinos of old. The restaurants are finely, yet accessibly appointed, and the buffet, long a staple of Las Vegas dining, is modestly upscale for an all-you-can-eat. The hotel possesses over 4000 rooms and a range of pool options. It sounds fancy, but not so upscale that the average adult would feel out of place.

We enjoyed a well-made cocktail at Vesper Bar, next door to CityCenter at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas. It’s a small bar, tucked into a space across from an elevator bay, but its true niche is a wide assortment of old-school cocktails expertly mixed by a pair of barmen. What a terrific pit stop during the day, or an evening stop-off on the way to dinner. The rest of the public hotel areas, and the casino, were tastefully decorated.

Themed resorts, once the centerpiece attractions on the Las Vegas Strip, have nearly completed a rebranding. MGM Grand shed its family theme park over a decade ago, and the Wizard of Oz decor before that. The latest overhaul added several nice restaurants, and It’s now branded as the “City of Entertainment.” The green outer shell remains, however.

Luxor has shed its Egyptian theme and the costuming that went with it, opting for a more generic look. In some corners it even has a mildly Asian feel, but you have to look for it. The black pyramid architecture isn’t all that bad, when they don’t hang advertising on it.

Excalibur, well, they’ve shed the King Arthur thing, but they’re fairly well stuck with a castle architecture. Their casino was among the smokiest every time we visited, and we wouldn’t return if a walk from Luxor to the rest of the strip didn’t require a walk through their property.

As mentioned, Mandalay Bay is now a family friendly destination, so expect that if you’re interested in visiting their wave pool. They have a “private, adult, upscale and sophisticated day-club experience” at the walled-off Moorea pool area, meaning women may sunbathe topless and you’ll pay for both admission and rental of “day bed, opium bed and pavilion” seating. I guess that pays for the opium.

Even the venerable Tropicana, long adorned in head to toe pink, has been white-washed and awaits a redecoration. The Vegas Strip is slowly moving on from a mid-nineties family destination, back to an adult playground. Perhaps the hoteliers are taking a cue from Macau, which recently surpassed Las Vegas in gaming revenue.

Our next visit will likely be a start- or end-point to a driving vacation. We’ll be looking for a resort that prices out the splashers, because if I’m going to Las Vegas, I’m not looking for Disney World. Aria looks interesting. So does The Cosmopolitan, as do the twin resorts of Wynn and Encore.

July 11, 2011

HP To Launch Ultrabook

Steve Kovack, writing for Silicon Alley Insider:

"According to a report from DigiTimes, the Chinese manufacturer Foxconn has already shipped units to HP. It will likely be ultra thin, just like the MacBook Air and Samsung's Series 9."

Take a look at the accompanying picture. Ever notice how copies of popular Apple products come off looking like Soviet knock-offs?

July 9, 2011

∴ Vesper Update

Two items worthy of note, re: this past week’s Vesper Bar experience. First, a Vesper does indeed taste better with two parts gin vs. three parts, as per Fleming’s recipe. The flavor imparted by the Lillet and a lemon slice is more pronounced, not having drowned in the gin.

Second, using a t-handle vegetable peeler, like this one, or this, neatly produces a long, thin and wide slice of lemon peel, perfect for this cocktail. Plenty of lemon oil from it dissolves into the drink. I recommend covering your hand with a kitchen towel before holding the lemon, or laying it on a flat surface and grasping it on either side, under the peeler, before pulling the peeler down the fruit. No need to draw blood for this cocktail.

Enjoy.

July 8, 2011

Consistency

There was a well-written op-Ed piece in the New York Times yesterday by retired pro baseball player Doug Glanville. It's about his friend and one-time teammate, Derek Jeter, and what his approaching 3000th hit means in the context of professional sports.

I admire the piece for its writing, which somehow manages to meander and flow at the same time, and for the simple truths about peak performance over a long career, even as the body begins its inevitable fade. Good, honest evocation that'll stick in your mind.

(thanks, Kenning)

July 7, 2011

Repost: Running for My Life

We're on vacation this week, so I'm reposting a few past pieces that I enjoyed writing. You can catch our latest adventure on Twitter, @BazingaJournal.

I was out for a run in the warm Virginia air of early spring yesterday, when I realized that it had been ten years since I took up running. So happy anniversary to me.

I've always been captivated by runners. Many of them make it look effortless, gliding on down the road. But a couple of past attempts at it hadn't stuck for me. I'd gotten started and worked up to a mile, but eventually I'd quit, never getting over the hump and into real distance. As much as it looked like those runners I'd admired were enjoying their workout, for some reason I didn't stick with it.

Returning from a trip to Las Vegas ten years ago, I was unhappily staring at the bathroom scale. I don't mind sharing that the dial had read 181 when we left, but now it was showing three pounds more. I had been working out at a local gym for a couple of years, mostly for strength training, but my weight had ballooned and now I was feeling downright crappy about it.

I had made my way through all of my gym's cardio equipment in the months before the trip. Now I was on the stationary bike, wondering what else I could try. (Jeez, I hated that bike. Nothing in a gym fills me with more dread than a stationary bike. The monotony of it is awful.) I noticed a couple of runners using nearby treadmills, two women who, as usual, were making it look easy by chatting as they ran. They were slim, obviously healthy, and enjoying their run. I figured I'd give it another try.

I fired up a treadmill on my next visit, dialing it up to a ten-minute mile. My first goal was a one-mile run. About halfway through I was sucking wind. My previous cardio routine hadn't put me in good enough shape for even a short run. I pushed on and finished the mile, but just barely.

I hit it again a couple of days later. And again, a couple of days after that. Gradually it got easier. I pushed up my time until I was running three miles, plateauing there for a while. It seemed like I couldn't get past a thirty-minute run, until I tried a slightly slower pace. I remember how good it felt to hit my first 45-minute mark, then an hour.

I've done a couple of registered road races since then, one a half-marathon, and run the 13.1-mile half-marathon distance just for the hell of it a few more times. Most of my runs are five or six miles long, with the occasional seven or eight-miler on warm weekend mornings in the summer.

My weight dropped about twenty pounds in the first year or two and has bounced around a six-pound zone since. I lost about three inches around my waist and everywhere else became lean muscle. Clothes fit better, and just felt better on me.

I don't know why running stuck for me this time around. Maybe it was knowing and watching other runners at the gym. Maybe it was the challenge and satisfaction of accruing more time, on a treadmill early on. Wearing an iPod helped quite a bit, making the run less monotonous. I still go out for a run without it now and then, usually in springtime, to enjoy the sounds of an outdoor run.

It's good to get off the treadmill and back out on the road each spring. And it's amazing how quickly time passes when I'm out for a good run. Most of them are good, but even after a crappy run I can look back up the road and think, "I did that."

July 6, 2011

∴ Vespers At the Vesper Bar

The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, a new hotel and casino adjacent to the new CityCenter, sports an interesting little bar smack in the middle of the property. Called Vesper Bar, its claim is dedication to the lost art of the cocktail. We visited this afternoon.

I ordered up a namesake Vesper, the original James Bond martini from Ian Fleming's 1953 Casino Royale. The Vesper is my current fave concoction and a pleasure to make. According to Fleming, the recipe is three parts Gordon's gin, one part (Russian) vodka, and one-half part Kina Lillet (no longer manufactured) shaken with ice until very cold, and served with a large, thin slice of lemon.

The cocktail I was served was quite good. Better, I think, than my own. I asked the barman for his take on the drink and he replied "two parts gin." Now, I've take a liberty or two with the recipe to make my own, using Hendrick's or Broker's gin rather than Gordon's, and Svedka vodka in lieu of the Russian stuff, even adding a dash or two of Angostura bitters to the modern Lillet Blanc to bring back some of the original product's bitterness imparted by quinine.

This fellow has gone and lowered the gin content by one-third. He also used some sort of tool (I wasn't near enough to see) to separate a really large swatch of lemon rind without taking any of the bitter pith. The lemon peel is always a challenge for me. His result was enjoyable, if a tad warm, but not diluted by too much shaking.

Kelly ordered a Cosmopolitan, and it was yummy. The barman used a splash of blood orange juice in the mix and floated a slice of the fruit on top. That kind of flavor balancing is part of the "lost" art of the cocktail. Cosmo fans will no doubt enjoy an interlude at Vesper Bar, watching the world go by.

Now I have to find that bar tool. I have some tinkering to do.

July 5, 2011

Finger Length Linked to Penis Size

Stephanie Pappas, writing for msnbc.com:

"In the new study, researchers at Gachon University Gil Hospital in South Korea recruited 144 volunteers 20 years of age and older who were going to undergo urological surgery. While the men were under anesthesia, the researchers measured their finger lengths and both their flaccid and stretched penis lengths. Stretched penis length is statistically correlated to the size of the penis when fully erect."

A guy walks into a bar, and...

Voice of Russia

Jill Dougherty, writing for CNN.com:

"So far, Americans can hear Voice of Russia on 1430 AM in New York and on 1390 AM in Washington. VOR Chairman Andrey Bistritskiy said at a news conference announcing the new venture that the aim is to "speak to the Americans in their language," offering more choices in voices for Americans."

Voice of Russia. They've been broadcasting to the US via shortwave since the days of Stalin. Now they have morning and afternoon drive-time programming from a studio in Washington, DC.

Repost: A Vast Wasteland

We're on vacation this week, so I'm reposting a few past pieces that I enjoyed writing. You can catch our latest adventure on Twitter, @BazingaJournal.

Newton Minow, once chairman of the FCC, called television a “vast wasteland.” He was mostly correct. Completely correct if you consider the seventies, and he was speaking in 1961.

But over the past ten or so years we’ve enjoyed a bit of a renaissance on the small screen. You must sift through the detritus, read the terrain, search for signs of passing (to paraphrase Justine Hanna in Heat) to find the good stuff, but it’s there. I’ve slowly accumulated a few gems among the detritus. Herewith, my slowly-budding list.

  • Battlestar Galactica. The first outing for this show’s namesake was hokey crap. As a kid I watched it anyway. The second time through was gritty, harsh, sexy, redeeming; what you’d see at the near-end of humanity’s run when our now-sentient machines have had enough of us.
  • Arrested Development. This is not slapstick. Not quite highbrow, either. Just funny, in a perverse sort of way. You know all the actors. See them make television worth laughing with, because they’re in on the joke. A follow-on movie is in production, for 2012 release.
  • The Wire. Oh. My. God. The best writing and teleplay I have ever enjoyed. Bonus points because I unknowingly drove past the towers (after they came down) and the low-rise on my way to visit my sister’s family in Bal’mer. Multiple times. (David Simon is making Treme right now.) Omar comin’, yo!
  • Firefly and Serenity. Joss Whedon’s scifi. Just starting out on this one. There’s a cohesiveness to the cast that’s hard to define. A milder grittiness, akin to Battlestar, but without the impending doom. Sort of a Cowboys and Aliens, before that movie was an idea. BTW, he wrote The Avengers, in production now for a 2012 release, starring Robert Downey and Scarlett Johansson, among others. (Scarlett can do no wrong for me after the beautiful, evocative, vacant Lost In Translation. I loved that film.)

In current production,

  • Community. Any show that mixes a crew of community college no-accounts with a replay of My Dinner With Andre is doing something interesting. This show’s drama/comedy writing is among the best in contemporary broadcast. Give it a couple of episodes, it’ll grow on you. Bonus points for snagging Chevy Chase.
  • Big Bang Theory. Chuck Lorre’s other show. A show in which I finally feel at home. These are my people. At least insofar as I can finish their sentences. Bonus fashion points for Sheldon. And for giving name to this blog.
  • Archer. Rude, crude, funny. Archer is a hard-drinking, hard-womanizing, clueless not-so-secret agent. Animated. Swill a martini with this one.

Netflix rents some by the season. Most get at least a 9/10 on imdb.com. You could look it up.

July 4, 2011

Repost: Hardware Hacking Made Easy

We're on vacation this week, so I'm reposting a few pieces from that past that I enjoyed writing. You can catch our latest adventure on Twitter, @BazingaJournal.

Well, kinda easy. I took delivery of a shiny, new MacBook Pro a few weeks ago, and although I'm very happy with it, I wanted to tweak its hardware to make it better fit my needs.

MacBooks have long shipped with an internal optical drive. CD-ROM, DVD, CD burner, DVD burner; each new generation sported a faster, more capable drive for reading and writing music, movies, and data. The new MacBook Pros carry a "SuperDrive," capable of reading and writing nearly any format short of BluRay. Trouble is, the SuperDrive takes up a lot of internal space, and I have almost no use for it.

Western Digital My Passport Essential

At the same time, I'm in the habit of making a daily backup of my machine's boot drive with a software application called SuperDuper!. I plug an external hard drive (at right) into a USB port, and the software makes a bootable clone. If I ever encounter a problem with the internal drive I can simply re-boot from the external drive, and I'll be back in business almost immediately.

But plugging and un-plugging the USB drive is annoying, and it takes up room in my bag. How great would it be if I could swap out the unused optical drive for a laptop-sized hard drive, maybe even the USB model I already have?

MCE Tech OptiBay Hard Drive

I was intrigued to come across MCE Tech's OptiBay solution. This product (at left) allows a user to mount a second, laptop-sized hard drive in place of the factory optical drive, providing a built-in backup drive and/or more storage (more on that later). For $99 they shipped me the OptiBay internal drive caddy, as well as an external, optical drive enclosure. They will include a new hard drive, for a higher price, if you don't already have one on-hand. The idea is to move your optical drive to the enclosure, which can be connected to the laptop with a USB cable when needed. The hard drive goes into the caddy, which is mounted in place of the optical drive. It's the best of both worlds.

Most USB external hard drives are just regular laptop drives with a special converter card attached at one end. I opened my external drive's case, slipped off the USB converter card and set the drive aside. The case and parts went into a box for a future project.

Installation of the OptiBay caddy was a mild challenge. Laptops are tightly engineered, and MacBook Pros are the most extreme example I've come across. The optical drive sits right up against the internal boot drive and logic board. Removing screws is made more difficult by interfering components. Everything is a perfect fit, so it took me a good half-hour to remove the optical drive before I could turn my attention to re-assembly.

I mounted the external hard drive it into the OptiBay, then carefully lowered the OptiBay into the space just vacated by the optical drive. After a bit of jostling I had it in place and fastened it in. Another fifteen minutes of careful manipulation and all the cables and components were back in their original positions, I had no left-over screws and was fastening the chassis bottom back in place. Total time from first screw to last was about an hour. Bring reading glasses and a flashlight to this party.

But would the machine boot? It sure did. The default startup drive, an SSD, brought my machine back to life in seconds. I used the Mac OS Finder to examine the now-internal Western Digital drive and found all of its data intact. I tested the backup drive's bootability by restarting the machine with the Option key held down, selecting the backup drive and hitting enter. What a difference it makes booting from a standard hard drive! Much slower than the SSD I've become accustomed to. It all worked, though, restoring my machine as it had been when I made the last backup. Convinced that the project had succeeded, I quickly re-booted on the SSD.

I set up a scheduled backup for SuperDuper!, running each day at 8 PM. I usually have the machine awake and in-use at that time, so SuperDuper! can copy any changes to the internal backup drive. I'll have a constantly updated backup right inside the laptop in case something goes wrong with the SSD.

The internal backup drive has more space than the SSD, so in addition to backup duties I can use the extra space for infrequently used files, or even the occasional movie ripped from DVD. It won't matter that the internal backup drive is much slower than the SSD; movies stream just fine from a hard drive and use less battery power doing so.

This was a fun little project, made somewhat difficult by the tight space within the MacBook Pro. I'd recommend it to anyone handy with electronics and small tools who's looking for a more versatile drive arrangement.

Vegas, Baby

We arrived on a hazy afternoon yesterday, which was a little odd for Las Vegas. We've been here several times over the years, and this is the first time the air wasn't clear and dry. The oddness continued in the terminal at McCarren airport. The place was a ghost town. Even the usually teeming bag claim area was quiet. And this was at 5pm. We didn't see all that many tourists until we checked into the Mandalay Bay hotel fifteen minutes later. Adding to the oddness, a thunderstorm rolled into the area as we were leaving our room looking for dinner. A stream of pool users swarmed past us and mobbed the elevators, fleeing the huge pool area as rain pelted them and lightning flashed just a half-mile away. We enjoyed drinks and food at Border Grill, watching the thunderstorm. Great mojitos. We'll see what today brings. Maybe the weather was an omen, and we're about to hit the jackpot.

Apple Supply Chain, Explained

A terrific, anonymous post appeared on Quora, ostensibly explaining Apple's advantage in supply chain management. It's fairly brief and intelligently written. (via Business Insider.)

July 2, 2011

∴ Follow Me On Twitter

If Twitter's your choice in social media, you can follow me there: @BazingaJournal.

FBI Wiretapped Hemingway

A. E. Hotchner:

“I have tried to reconcile Ernest’s fear of the FBI, which I regretfully misjudged, with the reality of the FBI file,’ writes Hotchner, author of Papa Hemingway and Hemingway and His World. ‘I now believe he truly sensed the surveillance, and that it substantially contributed to his anguish and his suicide.”

(Via Hugh Pickens, on Slashdot.)

Well, wow. Paranoia really doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you. Or at least watch you.

Hemingway: inspiration to Kerouac, and the first, I think, to use the phrase “the Earth moved” to describe sex (Maria, For Whom the Bell Tolls). And subversive element, I guess.

July 1, 2011

Analysts Shifting on How They Count iPad Sales

Ed Sutherland, writing for Cult of Mac:

"Should tablets be classified alongside notebooks as Mobile PCs? HP has its fingers crossed and hopes no as the rising popularity of the iPad could see a new mobile PC king crowned in 2012."

It's taken a while for this issue to come to a head. If the iPad is considered a mobile PC device, like the MacBook, then Apple crushes everyone else on units shipped. Clearly, the iPad should qualify, especially after iOS 5 drops this fall. The device will no longer need to be tethered to a PC for initial configuration or syncing.

Another aspect is what category the OS falls into. When analysts compare iPhone sales to those of Android, as they have the past couple of years, they're really comparing apples to oranges. A proper comparison is iOS sales vs. Android sales. That change allows iPads into the mix, boosting Apple's mobile device numbers up to 200 million. I'd like to compare that to total Android units sold, but I can't seem to find a number.

We'll probably see analysts shifting on the OS comparison front, too, as Android tablet sales increase, and everyone realizes there's just not that much difference between a smartphone and a tablet, other than size.

Chrome Hits 20% Marketshare

Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry, writing for Silicon Alley Insider:

“Google Chrome now has 20% marketshare in browsers, according to online analytics firm StatCounter, TheNextWeb reports.”

That was quick. I switched to Chrome from Firefox when old reliable no longer was, just a couple of years ago. I’ve been pleased with its fast rendering, memory-light implementation of Webkit, but lately I’ve been playing with Safari on my Mac. Safari is pretty quick, too.

Any Mac Chrome users out there with an opinion on Chrome vs. Safari for the desktop? Let’s hear them in comments.

Instacast for iPhone

TiPb:

Instacast, a podcast subscription manager, has received a big update that includes many new features such as AirPlay support, chapter lists, continuous playback, and optimized UI elements.

I've used this terrific app to organize, update and play my podcasts for the last few months. Not only has it freed me from syncing my iPhone in order to update my podcast subscriptions, but I can choose to stream them or download them into local storage for listening later, when I might be out of 3G range.

Hit the link for the release notes. This is a nice set of new and improved features. Worth every penny of $1.99, and for upgraders, free!