Why the U.S. Is Falling Behind

"Hey, we developed a commercially viable electric car!"

Government: BAN IT!

"Hey, here's a newer, better alternative to traditional cabs!"

Government: BAN IT!

"Hey, here's an alternative to cigarettes that is much less harmful!"

Government: BAN IT!

"Hey, we'll test your genetics and warn you if you're at risk of disease!"

Government: BAN IT!

"Hey, we have a flying robot that can deliver packages to your house!"

Government: BAN IT!

"Hey, here's an alternative to hotels!"

Government: BAN IT!

How can we possibly maintain a competitive economy when our federal, state, and local governments outlaw every new innovative technology and service?

iCloud's Documents in the Cloud is Fundamentally Broken

Ellis Hamburger, The Verge:

Many veteran developers have learned their lesson and given up on iCloud’s Core Data syncing entirely. "Ultimately, when we looked at iCloud + Core Data for [our app], it was a total no-go as nothing would have worked," said one best-selling iPhone and Mac developer. "Some issues with iCloud Core Data are theoretically unsolvable (stemming from the fact that you’ve put an object model on top of a distributed data store) and others are just plain bugs in the implementation," he said. Syncing alternatives exist, but none of them live up to the goals iCloud set out to achieve nearly two years ago: creating a seamless syncing solution that "just works" without logging in or setting up anything.

It's no secret that developers have been abandoning iCloud, and for good reason, as I learned last year. However, Hamburger's piece shows just how bad the situation is. It's not just a buggy, poorly documented implementation, it in fact just doesn't work.

Steve Jobs was visually imaginative, which is wonderful for hardware and even most types of software. But you can't just dream up a network infrastructure. Having every app be its own self-contained database sounds great, but in practice just does not work, as the piece goes on to explain:

Second, Dropbox uses Document-based syncing. If you’ve ever tried to sync an iPhoto library with Dropbox, you know that Dropbox also chokes on databases. As Jumsoft and several developers have confirmed, document-syncing isn’t what they’re after: the dream is to have databases on two or more devices that stay perfectly in sync. In truth, nobody has been able to do the job well in the iOS space, so iCloud was a beacon of hope at its inception.

The article insinuates that Apple doesn't care enough to fix the problem. I don't think that's the case. Rather, I don't think they know how to fix the problem. They aimed high, but ultimately bit off more than they can chew.

Sometimes the simplest solution is the best:

When Apple does use iCloud, it most often doesn’t even use Core Data to sync information. Apps like Keynote, for example, use the far simpler Document-based syncing method. Keynote must work, so Apple keeps a close eye on Document-based syncing functionality. And when it does rely on Core Data, Apple’s software has no more luck than third party developers. Apple’s simple Trailers app uses Core Data to sync, and periodically loses track of user Favorites. "The best Apple technologies are ones they use themselves," one developer told me.

Google Kills Reader

Google:

We launched Google Reader in 2005 in an effort to make it easy for people to discover and keep tabs on their favorite websites. While the product has a loyal following, over the years usage has declined. So, on July 1, 2013, we will retire Google Reader. Users and developers interested in RSS alternatives can export their data, including their subscriptions, with Google Takeout over the course of the next four months.

Google's transition from free Web services to hardware products shows just how hard the advertising market has been hit these past few years. If you use ad blockers, you have no right to cry about losing Reader.

But as Marco Arment points out, this will likely lead to a new golden age of RSS. Good ideas don't die on the Internet: they either last forever or evolve into something better. If file sharing is still around, why worry about RSS?

An Awkward Moment at Best Buy

Karin Hernandez, examiner.com:

However, in the case of the remote Yahoo! employees, Meyer decided that the data indicated a true problem, and took steps to remedy it. Whether this drastic solution will help to solve Yahoo!’s problems or not remains to be seen.

In the meantime, critics have been brutal. Jody Thompson and Cali Ressler, designers of the flexible work policy at Best Buy, said “…last week, you didn’t just mess up. You dug yourself a hole that no one can see to the bottom of. You made a move that has effectively painted you as 2013’s CEO Who Doesn’t Get It. And we might as well just give that award to you right now for the next 7 years… because what you’ve done has sealed your place at the top of that list for a very long time.

Karin Hernandez, later that day:

A few days after Yahoo!’s new CEO Marissa Mayer issued the news that Yahoo employees are no longer permitted to work from home, Best Buy terminated its own flexible work policy, reported CNNMoney.com on March 5.

Project Amy Adds App.Net Messaging to the Mac

Great work from Pocket developer Steve Streza. Just install the package, and you'll be able to send messages to App.net users from the built-in Messages app. I'm excited to see what else comes out of yesterday's hackathon.

I didn't give a flip about App.net until the File API was released, and I saw that App.net isn't just trying to be a Twitter clone, it's trying to become a new sort of infrastructure for applications. I'm so excited about the possibilities, I'm considering learning the API and coding something myself.

Source: https://alpha.app.net/projectamy/post/3435...

Apple's Lightning Digital AV Adapter is an AirPlay Receiver

Panic:

There’s a lot more going on in this adapter than we expected: indeed, we think the Lightning Digital AV Adapter outputs video by using AirPlay (or similar MPEG streaming). Are we off base? Let us know!

Apple's critics have often accused Apple of using impractical technology for the sake of aesthetics. This does nothing to help Apple's case.

If Panic's observations are correct, then the question is why did Apple do this? If they went to the trouble of shrinking an AirPlay device into a tiny adapter, sacrificing quality to do so, why not just make it a wireless HDMI AirPlay receiver? A device like that would be a big seller.

Maybe Apple was afraid that it would cannibalize Apple TV sales. Which just strengthens the case that Apple needs to open up their platform, at least a little. I don't want a Roku free-for-all where third party apps can crash the box, but I would at least like to have a lot of the Roku content that Apple TV lacks. The lack of UFC on the Apple TV has tempted me to buy a Roku, but why should I have two devices hooked up to my TV when I just need one?

UPDATE: It looks like we may have an answer.

Via TidBITS.

Chris Gonzales' Coolest Apple Store Experience

Chris Gonzales:

Each student was given the choice of a black or a white 160GB MacBook. I supposed they had all been brought to the Apple Store to check each one out at the last minute and see what they liked best, but it didn't take long for the students to form a line next to the teacher with their minds already made up. And then the teacher walked off to handle a student who was being particularly rowdy.

And then it dawned on me that all of these students were all speaking to one another in sign language.

They were from a school for the deaf.

Keep reading for the surprise ending.

The Awkward Transition from Dropbox to iCloud

Rene Ritchie, iMore:

The architecture is unnecessarily dependent on apps. If I create a document in Text Editor 1, not only do I have to remember the document I created but, if I want to access it again, I also have to remember the app I created it in. If I later switch to a much better Text Editor 2, my document doesn't switch with me. I have to either copy and paste every document from Text Editor 1 into Text Editor 2, or keep a list of which documents are where. That's a non-trivial amount of cognitive overhead. If at some point I move on to Text Editor 3, or delete (or switch devices and don't re-install) Text Editor 1, it gets even worse. I have to track my documents over multiple access points, and perhaps even re-install old apps just to get back to the documents locked inside. It's a mess.

What's funny is that Apple knows how to solve this. On the Mac, the iPhoto library can be accessed just like any folder on the filesystem, and on iOS the photo library is the same way. The problem is that Apple needs to define fixed buckets for documents the same way they've defined one for photos. I shouldn't have to remember if I created a text file in TextEdit or BBEdit.

Source: http://www.imore.com/stuck-between-dropbox...

The New Yorker on House of Cards and the Death of Cable

Tim Wu, The New Yorker:

An Internet firm like Netflix producing first-rate content takes us across a psychological line. If Netflix succeeds as a producer, other companies will follow and start taking market share. Maybe Amazon will go beyond its tentative investments and throw a hundred million at a different A-list series, or maybe Hulu will expand its ambitions for original content, or maybe the next great show will come from someone with a YouTube channel. When that happens, the baton passes, and empire falls—and we will see the first fundamental change in the home-entertainment paradigm in decades.

House of Cards is a fantastic show. If you have Netflix, be sure to check it out.

It's exciting to watch the Internet create real competition for traditional media strongholds. But what worries me is that I see a future full of walled gardens. Amazon-exclusive shows I can't watch on my Apple TV, iTunes-exclusives I can't view on a Roku, etc.

I want cable dead, but not if it means I'll need 20 boxes hooked up to my television.