Robot Tuxedo

Cultured Automaton

Page 3

Sparrow Had to Sell

After writing that piece yesterday about Sparrow, which I still stand by, something was pointed out to me by someone very smart that should have been obvious. Frankly I’m kind of irritated that I didn’t see this clearly yesterday, but I thank them for helping me see.

Although it has support for other IMAP clients and, in the end, POP clients, Sparrow is essentially, at a basic level, a conduit for the Gmail pipe.

The simple fact of the matter is that if your pipe comes to you looking to buy you out, you have no choice, you must sell. They have come looking for you because they’re going to buy a client, one way or another. If it’s not you, it’s someone else that does what you do and you’re done for anyway.

That adage goes for Twitter, Facebook, even Apple or other companies that don’t have a traditional pipe but control the platform you build...

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Why Did Sparrow Sell Out?

I know that a lot has been written about Sparrow getting acquired by Google. There have been some really good points made by both Marco Arment and Matt Gemmel already. But there are a few things that I would like to say, and you’re free to read them or not.

First, I think that Marco’s take on this is the one I would recommend you use to color your thinking about the Sparrow acquisition. I know Marco to a degree and I can attest to the fact that he spends an enormous amount of time thinking about how to build a sustainable software product and how each decision he makes affects his customers. Not every piece of software out there is built to endure and bloom like Instapaper has, and not every team is out to do the same with their company. But those who do have a unique perspective on the topic of ‘selling out’ and it’s worth listening to.

I don’t...

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Stop Not Linking

The practice of dancing around attributing sources by either not linking them or by linking them only in a special ‘sources’ area tucked away at the bottom of a post drives me nuts.

Jim Dalrymple of The Loop tweeted about this issue and it got me fired up all over again.

I personally always, always try to link early and often throughout any sourced piece that I write. I’m not perfect, so I do miss links once in a while, but I attempt to correct them whenever possible. It’s only the right thing to do. We have a link section at the bottom over at TNW but I very, very rarely use it. I suppose I should duplicate the source links at the bottom of the post, but I feel that an inline link clearly attributed to the source so that it’s not a mystery is the best way to go.

Not one word, not a bit of punctuation, but either on the name of the site you’re...

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Developers Replying to App Store Reviews is the [Best][Worst] Thing Ever

Earlier this month I wrote a post about how vital it was that Apple began allowing developers to reply to reviews. In my post, I didn’t specify whether or not those reviews should be public or one-to-one with the reviewer, just that a conversation needs to be had.

This is the salient idea:

The time is ripe for the App Store review system to grow into a two-way conversation between reviewers and developers, rather than a static ‘complaint board’.

Today, Matt Gemmell makes some very, very good points about the effects of a public forum on the human psyche. He references my favorite theorem on the subject and is spot on about how people turn into warped versions of themselves with an audience:

People aren’t really people when they’re in public; they turn into grandstanding, entitled, mutant versions of themselves. Talk to them privately, and suddenly you have a person again. It’s...

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How the iOS 6 ChamelonBar gets its color

Designer Max Rudberg relating Simon Blommegård’s discovery of how the color adapting status bar in iOS 6 chooses its color.

Blommegård found that simply changing the bottom row of pixels in the header bar of an app alters the status bar’s color. This means that the color of the bar can be changed by altering just that row. Even wierder, it takes an average, meaning that you can mix colors in the bottom row, creating a blend.


Every designer I spoke to this past week assumed that it was simply grabbing the base tint of the header bar. This is so odd.

I’m not a fan of the color changing bar myself, it feels funky and works in counter-purpose to the basic ‘information appliance’ concept that was the...

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My WWDC Liveblog Kit

I got some requests to share the contents of my liveblog kit, the image of which is below.


  1. 11" MacBook Air i7
  2. iPad 16GB Verizon
  3. Verizon 4G MiFi
  4. iPad SD/USB Dongles
  5. 8GB USB Drive
  6. SD>CF Adapter, in case a friend needs one
  7. Headphones
  8. Purell
  9. Field Notes
  10. Pilot Varsity disposable fountain pen
  11. Memory card wallet (~50GB of SD cards and 10GB of USB drives)
  12. iPhone 3GS backup phone with T-Mobile SIM
  13. Mophie JuicePack Plus battery pack for iPhone 4
  14. iPhone Charger and 2 Dock Connector cables
  15. Canon EOS 60D + 50mm + 28-135mm + 70-200mm
  16. Mophie Powerstation Pro battery pack
  17. MacBook power adapter with Twelve South PlugBug (+1 USB Port)
  18. Various medications like breath mints, Advil, Immodium, antacids etc.
  19. Tom Bihn SuperEgo bag with Absolute shoulder strap
  20. Olloclip lens set for iPhone
  21. SDHC card reader

After the liveblog I’ll winnow down the kit to my MacBook Air with power adapter,...

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Mobile hardware and software are separable, no matter what manufacturers tell you

Vlad Savov at the Verge, with a good piece on the Android hardware market’s homogenization. I think this is absolutely true for phones running Android. The software was developed separately from the hardware and modded ROMs just make that all the more evident as they strip away the ‘customizations’ — read: crapware — so generously provided by the manufacturers in order to differentiate this quarter’s 1.2 model from last quarter’s 1.1 model.

I believe that it is, however, patently NOT true of Apple’s devices, like the iPhone, where the software is developed for, and explicitly intended for, a singular set of devices.

Much of the success of Apple is due to the seamless integration of its software and hardware, with all of the compatibility and upgrade path advantages that brings.

Apple’s software is not an interchangeable part, it’s a...

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Siri, Mickey Mouse and an API walk into a bar

The article linked above is one I wrote partially about the ‘why’ of Siri, but also about its future and the ways that developers might be able to use it. This is the pertinent passage:

As Siri gets more efficient, Apple will expand its capabilities, but probably not by offering access to developers with an API, at least not any time soon. Instead it is more likely that we will see Apple announcing deals with more information providers that will give Siri additional pools of data from which to give answers. Imagine a deal with ESPN for sports scoring or fantasy points, or a tie in with Fandango so that Siri can read you off the movie times at a requested theater.

Beyond more licensing deals for its brain, Apple may begin adding hooks that it can use to pull information store inside the iCloud data uploaded by an app, grabbing your list of action items from Omnifocus or...

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Apple turns over its inventory every 5 days, faster than any other company aside from Mcdonalds

A new Gartner report on supply chain prowess has been released. It shows off some interesting statistics about how big companies run their financials and inventory.

Apple excels in three metrics:

  1. It has the second highest weighted return on assets of any company besides H&M, a vendor that makes cheap, but stylish, clothes.
  2. It has the highest revenue growth of any company on the list, so it’s making more money faster.
  3. It has the second highest inventory turnover rate, every 5 days, second only to McDonalds, who specializes in shoving fast food out the door as quickly as possible.

The inventory turnover is the crazy bit. Apple turns its entire inventory over 74 times a year, while McDonalds does it 142 times a year. By comparison, the next highest comparable company was Dell, who only manages 35.6 per year.

More Tim Cook genius at work.


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Apple Chromebox

Yesterday I tweeted about Samsung’s Chromebox being remarkably similar in design to Apple’s Mac Mini. Today, Dustin Curtis had the same thought.

You can see what we’re talking about when you look at the bottom of the Mac Mini: macmini

And the bottom of the Chromebox: chromeass

But I think it’s even worse than that. In an earlier tweet, I made this observation:

See, I don’t think that the bottom vent on the Chromebox is even functional as a vent like it is on the Mac Mini. There are already vents on the back for expelling heat, the slits on the bottom seem to be some sort of dead-stick auxiliary vent of some sort, maybe just for intake. They’re even blocked in places by...

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