Monthly Archives: September 2019

Researchers suggest iPods are the cause of an “iCrime wave”

You've heard it all before: iPods are high-theft items, and there has allegedly been an increase in crime as a result of the proliferation of our favorite white (or black… or aluminum anodized in our favorite colors) devices. But there hasn't been much data on the possible phenomenon, just anecdotal evidence and a few police reports here and there. The Urban Institute hopes to throw its own data into the mix, though, with a new report suggesting that rising crime rates may in fact be linked to iPods. HangZhou Night Net

The Urban Institute says that iPods' "high value, visibility, and versatility make them 'criminogenic'—or 'crime-creating,' in the vocabulary of criminologists." Researchers John Roman and Aaron Chalfin say that robberies rose in both 2005 and 2006, while overall theft actually declined during the same time period. According to Roman and Chaflin, the iPod's popularity make it a "special target" for juvenile offenders. "Indeed youth robbery arrests jumped 11 percent in 2005 and 21 percent in 2006," they wrote.

The 15-page paper (PDF) goes on to mention that, during the first three months of 2005, major felonies in the NYC subways increased by 18 percent—excluding iPod and cell phone thefts, however, felonies actually declined by three percent. (Let's just pretend like we didn't see that "and cell phone" part, I guess?).

The authors admit, however, that the "iCrime wave" may wane due to the ever-increasing ubiquitousness of the iPod. "Many of those who covet one likely already have one," reads the research paper. The correlation between the two is certainly intriguing, but it will likely be hard for some to accept that the iPod may actually be the cause of such crime spikes. We'll let you be the judge on that one.

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Study: Consumers ditching landlines for iPhone, other smartphones

The iPhone is arguably a jack of many trades that does most of them well, but a new study from Consumer Insights suggests that many American consumers are adding "landline replacement" to their list of favorite iPhone features. HangZhou Night Net

Funded by mobile phone retailer Wireless Toyz, MacNN reports the study found a significant boost in sales of feature-rich wireless handsets like the BlackBerry, Treo, Q and Chocolate. The iPhone is apparently leading the pack according to the study (though iSuppli likely disagrees), primarily due to its rich (though not outdone) feature set finally striking a chord with consumers. As to why the iPhone is getting nods for finally getting through to consumers, our guess is that it could be due to the way the phone has been presented and advertised; after all, when was the last time you saw a mobile phone ad that featured nothing but a hand actually using various features of the phone?

Considering how the home phone industry has not exactly innovated much in the midst of the exploding mobile phone industry, we aren't entirely surprised to see feature-packed mobile phones inspiring even more consumers to give their landline telcos the boot. The mobile phone industry is maturing and so are the handsets, offering more powerful features, (arguably) polished UIs, and an expanding army of services with which to accessorize. "Kuperstein" of Wireless Toyz also highlights the fact that this new interest in powerful mobile phones signifies a shift in consumer interest from cost to features when purchasing a mobile phone, which is exactly the kind of customer Apple designs for. The iPhone may never have survived even a couple years ago, in the age when free phones and multi-colored, flashing neon light batteries reigned supreme with consumers.

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Friday afternoon Apple links, O.J. Simpson edition

I know you've all missed my shining wit and charm over the past week, but luckily, it's Friday afternoon. Friday afternoon means fresh-squeezed Friday links and Apple tidbits. Now, I'm not saying I posted these, but if I had, here's how I would have posted them: HangZhou Night Net

Apple is no stranger to being on the receiving end of lawsuits, but a recent lawsuit naming Steve Jobs as a defendant might not be quite what the company is used to. Specifically, the recent suit brought by plaintiff and prison inmate Jonathan Lee Riches alleges that O.J. Simpson has been working as Steve Jobs' hitman since 1985. The entire suit is worth a read, since it contains gems such as Riches talking about how he "negotiated a plea bargain with Steve Jobs while he sat in Cinderella's castle in the Magic Kingdom." I wish I could make this stuff up. Lots of iPhone bricking stories have been floating around after the 1.1.1 update was released, but very few of those involved iPhones made out of bricks. I'm speaking, of course, about LEGO bricks, which an artist has used to make a model of the iPhone. The form factor is right, but the graphics on that model are still a bit lacking.What happens when you need to take pictures in dark places with your iPhone? Well if you're most people, you're out of luck. But one enterprising iPhone owner has cobbled together an iPhone flash from some LEDs and an old car charger. Judging by the pictures, it works very well. There's no word yet on what it does to battery life, or whether it will ever be commercially available.Along with all of the other updates released this week, Apple upgraded the Firmware Restoration CD to version 1.4. The CD can be used to fix up your Intel Mac after a botched firmware update, and now supports 2007 MacBooks as well as 8-core Mac Pros. If you actually need it, it's a 30MB download and can be used to create a CD on either an Intel or PowerPC Mac. On the more serious side of things, everyone's favorite analyst Gene (Herman to his friends) Munster is reporting that the iPhone price drop has given sales of the device a swift kick in the rear. Demand has apparently increased between 70 and 100 percent—much higher than first expected. The increased demand won't do much for the September quarter, but the holiday quarter is going to be even sweeter if those numbers continue to hold.

That's all I've got for today. Have a wonderful weekend, but do try to keep any children or loved ones away from O.J. Simpson. And keep those suggestions for Friday links rolling in, too!

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GNOME 2.22 planning: Empathy messaging client and toolkit proposed for inclusion

We have previously discussed Empathy, an open source instant messaging client and toolkit that is part of the Telepathy project. Empathy has officially been proposed for inclusion in GNOME 2.22, making Telepathy and the Mission Control connection management framework potential external dependencies. HangZhou Night Net

Empathy is rapidly becoming an important part of the GNOME software ecosystem and is already packaged in several mainstream distributions, including the upcoming Ubuntu 7.10 release. Empathy integration features for Nautilus, Totem, Epiphany, and Jokosher and others are currently being developed. The Empathy toolkit is also being used by Intel as part of its new Linux-based mobile platform. Telepathy could eventually provide pervasive messaging and presence functionality throughout the entire desktop environment.

Although there is much support for Empathy in the GNOME developer community, there are some who are reluctant to support inclusion in GNOME 2.22 because of limited documentation, the need to relicense GPL components adapted from the Gossip client under the LGPL, and general concerns about completeness. It is not yet certain whether or not these issues will be resolved in time for Empathy to be included in GNOME 2.22, but the project has significant momentum and provides considerable value, making it likely candidate for inclusion at some point in the future if not in GNOME 2.22.

In related news, Empathy 0.13 was officially released today, with a completely reworked contact list API, an improved smiley management algorithm, avatar caching, and many bug fixes and minor improvements. Empathy developer Xavier Claessens has also announced a new experimental Empathy branch with preliminary support for VoIP.

Other features being considered for GNOME 2.22 include Novell's improvements to the clock applet, Alex Gravely's innovative Gimmie project, the Anjuta software development environment, and the Cheese photo application. Stay tuned for in-depth coverage of some of these features in upcoming journal posts.

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GNOME 2.22 planning: GIO and GVFS proposed for inclusion

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The GIO library, a GObject-based abstraction layer for I/O, has been proposed for inclusion in GNOME 2.22. It includes abstract stream base classes for synchronous and asynchronous I/O, file input and output stream classes, a file info mechanism that has a key/value attribute pair system that can be used by various back ends to expose specialized file metadata, a directory iteration mechanism, and a mount operation callback handler.

The GIO library is currently used to develop GVFS, a userspace virtual filesystem framework that is being designed to replace the aging GnomeVFS library. GVFS uses the D-BUS interprocess communication protocol to facilitate interaction between the daemons that run individual mounts and a central daemon that registers and manages mounts. D-Bus isn't used for the actual file transfers, however, because of performance reasons. "[W]hen we're actually reading or writing file content we pass a unix socket fd over the dbus and use a custom binary protocol over that," explains GIO and GVFS developer Alexander Larsson. "This lets us do file transfers very efficiently."

One of the most significant failings of the old GnomeVFS library is that it doesn't make mountpoints accessible to applications that don't use the library. Back in February, Larsson proposed resolving this problem in GVFS by creating a FUSE bridge. FUSE is a userspace virtual filesystem layer that is implemented at the kernel level. Exposing GVFS mount points through FUSE would make it possible for all applications, including command-line utilities, to access files through GVFS.

"A large problem with gnome-vfs is that applications not specially coded to use gnome-vfs will not be able to read non-local files," wrote Larsson in a February mailing list post. "A nice solution to this would be to use FUSE to let such apps use normal syscalls to access the files. In general its quite tricky to map any URI to a FUSE file, but with the mountpoint + filename setup gvfs uses it is very easy to create a FUSE filesystem that lets you access all the current vfs mounts."

An experimental FUSE bridge has since been implemented.

Larsson has also already done preliminary work to integrate the new library into the Nautilus file manager. The experimental Nautilus integration work, which can be found in the nautilus-GIO branch in GNOME's Subversion version control repository, currently only works with the local file backend, but it has a lot of potential.

Discussion of GIO and GVFS on the GNOME mailing list has been relatively positive, and several developers seem supportive of including the libraries. Topics of discussion include how to establish a migration path to GVFS and whether or not it would make sense to create a standard cross-desktop library for abstract file access.

For more information about GVFS and how it will improve the GNOME platform, check out the slides of Larsson's Guadec presentation.

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A glance at Parrot’s Photo Viewer digital picture frames

I stopped by Parrot real quickly today to check out some small digital photo frames on display. There's good news and bad news in the world of digital photo frames. HangZhou Night Net

The good news is, they frames are beginning to get a lot more attractive. I could actually see myself using these in my living room or in my kitchen. The 3.5" frames, which are available in wood and in a few leather colors, have a 320×234 display and can store up to 120 pictures (hey that's 120x more than a regular photo frame!). I had a chance to check out the leather frames, and I have to say, they actually look pretty solid. Pictures can be displayed in both vertical or horizontal mode, and the colors are vivid enough to actually make out anyone inside.

Sadly, at 3.5" the frames are still a bit small, and are really best fit for desks. Even worse, they're also still priced sky-high at $99 which makes them a tough replacement for an 85 cent frame you could grab from a drugstore. The 7" frame is, according to the salesperson, priced around $159, but can store up to 500 pictures.

Pictures can be added to the frame directly from your camera via a USB port, through a SD/MC card, or via wireless Bluetooth.

Does anyone own a digital photo frame? Are they worth the price? These looked pretty awesome but I can't justify spending that much money on a frame. A quick glance at the website also shows that the frames are available in more colors, including a pimp-like Zebra print for displaying your…girlfriends.

Parrot says that the DF7220—a 7" frame with changeable accents, 720×480 resolution, storage for up to 300 pictures, and Bluetooth support—will be available shortly.

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10 years after “Think different.”

Think Brand

By fall of 1997, Steve Jobs had completed his bloodbath at Apple Computer, having terminated former CEO Gil Amelio, strangled the Macintosh clones, taken blood money from Bill Gates, and knifed the Newton. Now it was time for a shower and a fresh face. To that end, ad agency TBWA/Chiat/Day was hired to come up with the second most famous Apple ad. HangZhou Night Net

On September 28th, 1997, the "Think different" campaign debuted in video and print. In typical Jobsian fashion, it was jaw-droppingly over the top. If picking the bones of famous and historic figures like Martin Luther King, Jr. through a montage of black-and-white film footage did not get across the elitist subtext, Richard Dreyfuss—who ironically suffers from bi-polar disorder—read the following free verse poem that appears to have been an also-ran in a high school poetry contest.

Here’s to the crazy ones.
The misfits.
The rebels.
The troublemakers.
The round pegs in the square holes.
The ones who see things differently.
They’re not fond of rules.
And they have no respect for the status quo.
You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them.
About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them.
Because they change things.
They push the human race forward.
And while some see them as the crazy ones,
We see genius.
Because the people who are crazy enough to think
they can change the world,
Are the ones who do

While the campaign was critically acclaimed, like every other ad campaign by Apple, it failed to have any measurable impact on sales. The campaign was eventually and mercifully retired in 2002, replaced by the "Switch" campaign, made famous in its own way by an apparently stoned teenager "beeping."

On the 10th anniversary of the "Think different" ad campaign, it would be well to remember another commercial, one that exemplifies the other Apple. If "Think different" glorifies the best among us—and by transference ourselves should we use Apple products—a series of commercials (found here) from 1984 speaks to those not worthy of a poster.

Macintosh, the computer for the rest of us.

In the last 10 years, it is the populist Apple that has given Unix a friendly face, put a thousand songs in every pocket, and now the Internet too. Let's have 10 more years of that Apple and leave the posters to the collectors.

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Mailplane updates with Leopard compatibility and pricing details

Mailplane, Rubin Bakker's Mac OS X-integrated Gmail client, has received a feature bump and price details for when it goes gold. Bringing features like the iLife Media Browser, an Address Book panel, drag-and-drop file attaching, and Growl support to Google's e-mail service, Mailplane is a great solution for anyone who loves their Gmail but can't bring themselves to leave the power and integration of Mac OS X. HangZhou Night Net

While the last Mailplane update earlier this month added some incremental features, this update to version 1.52 adds Leopard compatibility and prepares the app for a public debut. Other new features in this release include a "don't optimize photos" option for e-mailing original copies, and obeying the "hide at startup" option from the Accounts System Preferences pane.

In addition to new localizations (Finnish and Catalan), a handful of other bugfixes, and UI tweaks, Mailplane has finally been dubbed a price of $24.95 once it goes out the door for good. A family license for $8 extra will also be available, allowing use of Mailplane on up to five Macs in the same household. If you're one of the lucky beta users though, Bakker is offering the family option for free before Mailplane goes public. Unfortunately, there is no official word on when that will be, so you'd better jump on the limited-time discount soon.

If you're interested in what Mailplane has to offer, you can check out its other features like Google Talk integration (even though it uses the Safari's speedier WebKit engine to render Gmail), support for multiple Gmail accounts (including Apps for Your Domain), an iPhoto plug-in, and instant screenshot + attachment features at the Mailplane site. You can also sign up for the private beta to try and get your hands on a copy, or seek out an invite from a friend.

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Some Windows XP installations stuck in DLL Hell after running “repair”

When Windows Secrets' Scott Dunn blogged about a stealth Windows update that broke Windows XP's "repair" functionality, he probably didn't expect to create such a buzz around the web. The fix turned out to be simple, but many people are peeved at Microsoft for forcing them to fix the company's mistake. HangZhou Night Net

The actual problem occurs after rolling XP back to a previous state through the installation disk. Once the system is restored, users are unable to install any additional updates from Windows/Microsoft Update. When Microsoft caught wind of the bug, it started pursuing the issue and did ultimately find the root cause within a day.

Windows Update program manager Nate Clinton diagnosed the bug as a case of DLL Hell.

Here’s what we found: when an XP repair CD is used, it replaces all system files (including Windows Update) on your machine with older versions of those files and restores the registry. However, the latest version of Windows Update includes wups2.dll that was not originally present in Windows XP. Therefore, after the repair install of the OS, wups2.dll remains on the system but its registry entries are missing. This mismatch causes updates to fail installation.

The fix, described in the bug's associated KB article, is as simple as re-registering the wups2.dll file. Nevertheless, some users are upset that they've had to do that much. "The fact is we shouldn’t have to be continually fixing things that Microsoft breaks," one blogger wrote. Another blogger questioned Microsoft's quality assurance process, asking, "I have to wonder about a company with programming and R&D staff the size of Microsoft – and no one tested for something like this?" Because it is hard to believe that Microsoft could have missed this issue, some conspiracy theorists have even gone as far as arguing that Microsoft deliberately created this bug to move people from XP to Vista.

While it's highly unlikely that Microsoft would intentionally leave a bug like this in XP, users do have a right to be angry about having to manually repair this problem. However, these kinds of ad-hoc fixes are sometimes necessary in the world of computers—this one just seems to have received a little more visibility than usual.

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Apple posts iPhone Human Interface Guidelines

The iPhone may be limited to running web apps and services instead of true native apps for now, but Apple can still give developers a nudge in the right direction when designing their UI and experience. A new iPhone Human Interface Guidelines (HIG) document from Apple is just such a nudge, offering developers in-depth documentation on the iPhone's UI, how to design for it, and how to handle content passed through various technologies. HangZhou Night Net

Broken into four sections, the iPhone HIG introduces developers to some of the concepts and paradigm shifts that they'll need to grasp before developing for the iPhone. Gone are a mouse, multi-layered windows, and an accessible file system—only a few media applications and MobileSafari are available. "Regardless of these differences in platform," the introduction reminds intrepid iPhone developers. "Your main goal as a web content developer is the same: to capture users' imagination and earn their loyalty with a solution that is functional, focused, and enjoyable to use."

At least Cocoa developers have a bright side to enjoy while being limited to HTML, CSS, and AJAX.

Actually, those who are just dying for native iPhone applications can begin blogging rampant speculation glean some hope from some language used in the iPhone HIG document's main page. An aside during the introduction states: "Currently, developers create web applications for iPhone, not native applications." It may be one simple word, but "currently" adds a whole lot of flavor to that sentence for anyone who cannot live by Web 2.0 alone.

That said, it's probably a good thing that Apple released this document. While most iPhone web developers seem to have done a good job of incorporating the key aspects of the iPhone's unique UI into their offerings, this doc should help the stragglers clean up their products and provide a more familiar experience.

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