Defining the decade: ten years of Apple on one page: “Apple had to graduate through the passing of its founder, juggle relationships with an ever-expanding list of consumer and professional market segments, and adapt to the public attention and scrunity that only comes along as a consequence of being the biggest company in the world.”

Sometime between September 3rd and September 23rd, I thought this stuff was interesting. You might think so too!

Sometime between August 1st and September 1st, I thought this stuff was interesting. You might think so too!

  • The P-I error that changed Seattle history: "Occasionally, newspapers report factual errors. A well-intentioned interview subject gives bad information, a name is spelled wrong, a breaking news story is inadvertently peppered with grammatical errors. But no incorrect newspaper story has had a bigger impact on Seattle history than one published June 7, 1889."
  • 98.6 degrees is a normal body temperature, right? Not quite: “Forget everything you know about normal body temperature and fever, starting with 98.6. That’s an antiquated number based on a flawed study from 1868 (yes, 150 years ago). The facts about fever are a lot more complicated.”
  • The “I Am Steve Rogers” Joke in ‘Avengers: Infinity War’ Is the Definitive Captain America Moment: That’s who Captain America is, a man who listens to and believes in people when they tell him who they are. That’s a lesson we all should take away from that moment.
  • The Bullshit Web: “An honest web is one in which the overwhelming majority of the code and assets downloaded to a user’s computer are used in a page’s visual presentation, with nearly all the remainder used to define the semantic structure and associated metadata on the page. Bullshit — in the form of CPU-sucking surveillance, unnecessarily-interruptive elements, and behaviours that nobody responsible for a website would themselves find appealing as a visitor — is unwelcome and intolerable.”
  • Ignorant Hysteria Over 3D Printed Guns Leads To Courts Ignoring The First Amendment: "…in the last few days the hysteria [over 3D-printed guns] has returned… and much of it is misleading and wrong, and while most people probably want to talk about the 2nd Amendment implications of all of this, it's the 1st Amendment implications that are a bigger deal." Interesting. I'm not at all comfortable with wide availability of 3D-printed guns, but this analysis of the issues is worth reading.

Sometime between April 12th and April 15th, I thought this stuff was interesting. You might think so too!

Sometime between September 21st and November 11th, I thought this stuff was interesting. You might think so too!

Sometime between July 25th and September 21st, I thought this stuff was interesting. You might think so too!

For a while now, I’ve been using Bookpedia to catalog Prairie’s and my book collections, and DVDPedia for our movie collection. One of the handiest things about the system was the ability to sync our libraries to my iPod through Pocketpedia and have them available at my fingertips whenever we were out and about. No more trying to remember whether or not we’d picked up a particular book from a particular author or series, just check the iPod. It was one of my most-used iPhone apps.

Unfortunately, that’s not an option anymore: Amazon recently changed their API Terms of Service, and included the following clause in section 4(e):

You will not, without our express prior written approval requested via this link , use any Product Advertising Content on or in connection with any site or application designed or intended for use with a mobile phone or other handheld device.

Since the update to the TOS, Amazon has been aggressively enforcing that clause. I saw the writing on the wall a couple weeks ago when Delicious had their iPhone app pulled, and now Pocketpedia has been killed as well.

This morning we received an email from Amazon requesting the immediate removal of Pocketpedia from the App Store since the program is in violation of their license agreement. (A clause we’re pretty sure didn’t exist when Pocketpedia launched with the App Store in June last year but TOSBack only tracks Kindle and MP3 music service terms of use.)

We’ve logged a request with Amazon that Pocketpedia be exempt from the mobile clause (this is stated as a possibility in the license agreement) but it seems others have tried this before and were shot down so we’re not holding our breath for a favourable response. Hopefully the future will bring a positive change in their policy and we can all go on competing in the App Store.

Pocketpedia Not Available

Unsurprisingly, I — and a number of other previously-happy customers — are none too thrilled with Amazon about this. I’m hoping that some workaround can be found, and that Pocketpedia can continue on (even if that means gutting it to remove all data ever retrieved from Amazon). All I can do now (aside from dropping Amazon a quick complaint e-mail, which I’ve already done) is wait and see what happens next.

Update: Hooray! As of today, Nov. 10th, 2009, Pocketpedia is back! You can download the new, Amazon-free version right here.

Sometime between December 28th and January 8th, I thought this stuff was interesting. You might think so too!

  • freezebubbles: It's very cold tonight, so we played with bubbles. If you blow them upwards enough they have time to freeze on the way down.
  • xkcd: Converting to Metric: The key to converting to metric is establishing new reference points. When you hear "26° C," instead of thinking "that's 70° F," you should think, "that's warmer than a house but cool for swimming." Here are some helpful tables of reference points…
  • Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service: Seattle: Green River near Auburn: Hydrologic info for the Green River. Currently in the 'caution' zone at its single checkpoint, but seems to have crested already and is expected to drop from here on out.
  • UiRemote: The Universal Infrared Remote for iPhone: With the help of this small accessory, you will be able to use your iPhone to control your TV, DVD, Cable box, Projectors, Digital Photo Frames, AC, Fans, & Backyard evil robots, whereever you go. Not only does it send out the remote control signals, you can easily teach it to learn any button on any standard Remote, or even a sequence of button clicks as a macro. (This looks nice — hopefully they make it compatible with the iPod Touch as well!)
  • 25 Years of Mac: From Boxy Beige to Silver Sleek: Here's what's amazing about the Mac as it turns 25, a number that in computer years is just about a googolplex: It can look forward. The Mac's original competition—the green-phosphorus-screened stuff made by RadioShack, DEC, and then-big kahuna IBM—now inhabit landfills, both physically and psychically. Yet the Macintosh is not only thriving, it's doing better than at any time in its history. Mac market share has quietly crept into double digits. That's up from barely 3 percent in 1997, just before the prodigal CEO returned to the fold after a 12-year exile. Any way you cut it, the Mac is on the rise while Windows is waning. Roll over, Methusela—the Macintosh is still peaking.
  • 6 New Web Technologies of 2008 You Need to Use Now: Every year, we see scores of innovations trickle onto the web — everything from new browser features to cool web apps to entire programming languages. Some of these concepts just make us smile, then we move on. Some completely blow our minds with their utility and ingenuity — and become must-haves. For this list, we've compiled the most truly life-altering nuggets of brilliance to hit center stage in 2008: the ideas, products and enhancements to the web experience so huge that they make us wonder how we got along without them.
  • NCIS: The Official TV Soundtrack: Okay, maybe it's a little cheezy as a TV show tie-in, but NCIS is my personal favorite of the current crop of crime dramas…and the entire second disc of the soundtrack set is music from Abby's Lab: Collide, Ministry, Seether, Skold vs. KMFDM, Nitzer Ebb, Android Lust, and more. Sweet!
  • Weak cellphone law puts drivers off the hook: When lawmakers addressed the issue, they amassed sufficient votes only for a law that made talking on a handheld cellphone a secondary offense. If it were a primary offense, an officer could stop a violator on the spot for using a cellphone. But in our state, officers can stop an offender only for another reason, such as a busted taillight, weaving or following too close. During the stop, they can write an additional ticket for cellphone misbehavior. Of several states with cellphone bans, including California, Connecticut, New Jersey and New York, only Washington opted to make it secondary offense.
  • Whose Streets?: In both instances the the streets have been immediately appropriated for the purpose of joy—not commerce or commuting—and the Seattle police, who normally exist to protect commerce and commuting, have gotten it exactly right. They've ceded the streets to the celebrants and made it their duty to protect them and their temporary takeover of space that isn't theirs. On election night, I saw police keeping cars away from the street party in the above video. On Saturday night—or, really, at 2 a.m. on Sunday morning—I saw a lone police car parked so that it blocked traffic from descending the hill favored by the East Denny Way sledders, some of whom are pictured above.
  • Chart Porn: The Unofficial Theory Of Sci-Fi Connectivity: We've concentrated on three types of crossovers between series: Direct Crossover, where characters from one series or another have actually met in a story; Easter Egg, where elements of one series have appeared in another (often as geeky in-jokes), and Brand Crossover, where market forces have brought two disparate things together for no good reason (See Transformers/Star Wars).

Recommendations based purely on my own personal needs, wants, and desires. These are the applications I’ve installed on my iPod Touch that have managed to stick around for more than a few days of experimenting…



  • WeatherBug: More information than the standard Weather app. I’ve put this on the home screen and moved Weather to a later page.

  • WordPress: I’ve hardly used it, as I’m usually close enough to my main ‘puter to blog from here, but it could come in quite handy the next time I travel.

  • Kiwi: A nice simple Wikipedia interface.

  • Google Mobile App: A one-stop shop for Google’s major offerings. Mostly just a launcher into their iPhone-optimized websites, but handy for using only one spot on the iTouch screen.

  • Google Earth: A little slow, but lots of fun to play with. Nice use of the accelerometer for moving your view around also. Plus, it’s free and makes a good “wow!” tech demo. ;)

  • Amazon Mobile: Because I really, really need a way to make spending more money even easier!


  • Remote: I’m not using it much right now, but it’s fun to play with. It does make it tempting to put an Airport Express in the living room to pipe iTunes into the stereo there, though….

  • Rowmote: Slick little companion piece/replacement for Remote that acts as a remote control over WiFi for a whole host of applications on the Mac. I’ve been using this to control the QuickTime player while Prairie and I watch TV episodes we’ve downloaded from Bittorrent, and it works great. Very handy!

  • Pocketpedia: “I wonder if there’s a way for me to easily catalog my DVD collection and sync it with my iPod?” I said one day. A few minutes later, I had Pocketpedia on my iPod and DVDpedia (which generates this list) and Bookpedia on my Mac. Perfect!

  • Now Playing (formerly Box Office): Movie listings at local theaters, reviews, even trailers, all in one slick little app.

  • Stanza: An e-book reader that ties directly into Feedbooks, allowing you to download tons of free texts. I read H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine over the past week on lunch, Cory Doctorow’s Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom, and a number of others. There’s also a desktop client, but I don’t think I’ll use that nearly as often, this is more for easy entertainment when I’ve got a few minutes to kill.

  • Kindle for iPhone: I wouldn’t spend the money for an actual Kindle, but I’ve ended up spending enough time using Stanza for eBooks that I figured I’d give this a try as well. All I’ve picked up so far is the Stephen King short story ‘Ur’, and I haven’t even read it yet, but a few minutes of poking around leads me to believe that Kindle isn’t bad either.


Social Networking

  • Tweetie: I tried a few, and this is by far the best Twitter app I’ve found. Multiple accounts, saved searches, trend watching, and integration. This is my #1 most-used 3rd party app.

  • Facebook: I don’t really use it that often, but often enough that it’s stuck around. I’ve been using Facebook more often recently, and along with that, the Facebook app. Pretty slick, actually.

  • Myspace Mobile: I still hate Myspace, but I have to admit, if their actual website worked half as well as their iPhone app, I might not hate them quite as much. Not bug-free, but so much more bug-free and pleasant to look at than the actual website that this is my preferred method of checking in on those friends who I can’t talk out of the MySpace ghetto.

  • LinkedIn: I don’t stop by here as much, but if I need to, I’ve got the app to do it.


  • Mobile News: AP’s news browser. When I just want a quick browse of major news stories, this is the way to do it. I especially like the localization options.


  • Boom!: Minesweeper. ‘Nuff said.

  • Enigmo: I’m not entirely sold on this one. Neat and all, but the screen’s so small on the iPod/iTouch that I lose track of what objects have been placed where. I think I’d like this as a desktop game rather than in its mobile version.

  • Quordy: A great little word game. Prairie and I have both had a lot of fun with this one — since the default is to start a game by shaking the iPod as if you were shaking a Yahtzee dice cup, if we’ve got a few minutes to kill somewhere, Prairie will just say “Shake it! Shake it!” and (rather than breaking into a dance, which I’m sure would be amusing as well) out comes Quordy.

  • Aurora Feint: While I’m not putting a ton of time into the RPG aspect of the game, the Tetris-like game itself is fun enough to keep me engrossed.

  • Jirbo Break: I’ve always liked Breakout clones, and this one works fine for me. I’d made it through all the levels, but they just released an update giving it 99 total levels. Guess I better get back to work!

  • Cube Runner: Marvelously simple, engrossing, and a great demonstration of the accelerometer. Still one of my favorite games.

iPhone/iTouch Optimized Sites:

  • The dashboard interface to the one-update-does-all website. Now that Tweetie ties into directly, I’ve removed this.

  • Twitter: Since I use to update, I’m fine with using the Twitter mobile client to check updates. I do at times wish I could easily check @ replies, but not often enough to install Twitteriffic (which has just never quite felt “right” for me, in either its desktop or mobile incarnations) or another dedicated client. Tweetie to the rescue again!

  • NewsGator: Even though there’s a well-regarded NetNewsWire app for the iPhone/iTouch, I still just use the NewsGator mobile site. It’s faster and easier to use than NNW mobile, and while I keep poking at NNW mobile, it still hasn’t been able to win me over. I’ve actually been pulled away from the NewsGator family, and now use the Google Reader mobile interface.

  • CNN Moble: Not actually iPhone/iTouch optimized, and not terribly pretty, but works if I just want a quick look at “what’s happening now”.

  • Metafilter: Read-only as far as I can tell, but a slick way to browse MeFi.

  • IMDB Mobile: Again, just a nice way to dig through the IMDB. A little slow sometimes is about my only complaint, but since it’s not actually affiliated with IMDB, I can’t complain too much.

  • Google Reader: Though I’m a long time NetNewsWire (and therefore NewsGator) user, I’m experimenting with Google Reader. Their iPhone/iTouch interface is as slick as their web interface, and definitely gives the Newsgator juggernaut some strong competition. Now if I could only sync Google Reader to NetNewsWire….

  • Tricorder: Pure Star Trek silliness. Could really use being recreated as a standalone app so that it doesn’t have the annoying advertising at the bottom. Perhaps using the accelerometer to affect the displays?

And that’s it for me. Any other recommendations from all of you?