inessential by Brent Simmons

March 2012

NickB on Privacy

My co-worker Nick Bradbury: Privacy is not an Option.

Microsoft Outlook used to be like that: by default it would allow viruses to be emailed to you, but you could configure it to be secure if you knew where the security options were.

I think this is the first time I’ve heard our current situation with privacy compared to the old Windows days of big open doors for viruses.

Neven Stands Outside the Gate

Neven Mrgan, The Agony and The Ecstasy of The President:

The first thing I see are the guards. And they are carrying guns. All around the vast, sprawling compound, a twelve-foot fence keeps the workers inside. You see, there has been a shooting not too long ago. Strolling in the park one night, President Garfield was shot by a disgruntled coworker.

Do you think Neven really doesn’t know that his last name is missing a vowel? Really? With his attention to detail?

Nieman Labs Analyzes Gawker’s ‘Traffic-Whoring’ Experiment

Good article about the “snappy snarky snarking snark-snark shit” and pageviews and happy writers.

Pacific Helm

Brad and Louie. So much rhythm, grace, and debonair in just one company?

Glassboard Business Plan Follow-Up

Okay, it’s probably not strictly accurate to say we don’t have a business plan or model, as reported yesterday. We do. We have a bunch of details to fill in, though.

The gist: free app, no advertising, and things-to-charge-for. We haven’t worked out the details on the things-to-charge-for part, but we have a bunch of ideas. (And are open to more, of course.)

In other words, it’s a fairly traditional idea. Not about “monetizing eyeballs” — it’s about creating quality software that people like and selling additional somethings that people will pay for.

There’s a follow-up on the blog.

One More Thing

I wish I could make it to the One More Thing conference in Melbourne. Great speakers list. Plus — Australia is cool.

No Plan

In a post today on the Glassboard blog Jenny wrote:

We’ve been asked before what our business model is, and honestly there isn’t one in place yet.

I love this because it’s true.

She also wrote:

A business model that relies on targeted advertising doesn’t jive with our culture at Sepia Labs. We’d rather add amazing new features that people would be willing to pay us for, because they enjoy Glassboard so much.

True too.

But anyway — here’s a video of a cat and an owl playing together.

Mark on ObjC Literals

Mark Dalrymple, Big Nerd Ranch Weblog: Objective-C Literals, Part 1.

I’ve wanted this for so long. Simpler code. Easier to read.

Gus on Pricing

Gus brings up a dilemma with upgrade pricing and VoodooPad 5 and makes good points.

I think there may be exceptions to the stick-with-a-price rule — especially upgrades and transitioning from non-Mac-App-Store to Mac App Store. I’d still lean toward picking a price and sticking with it, but you have to consider your incentives, the product, and the people who already use it.

Better Than Computers?

There are days, surprisingly frequent, when I think the greatest modern invention is PVC pipes.

Deflation and Introductory Pricing

If you don’t think about it too much, you might think that deflation increases demand. After all, if things are cheaper, you’re more likely to spend money.

The problem is that people are aware of deflation, and they expect prices to continue to drop, so they postpone purchases.

On the other hand, inflation increases demand — people think they should buy now before the price goes up.

This relates to App Store pricing. When prices continue to drop, people may look at an app they want and then decide to wait, since prices tend to drop on the App Store.

At first glance, I think this argues in favor of having introductory pricing when releasing a new product or a major new version of a product. It increases demand in the short term, since people know that the price will go up.

The problem is this, though: after the price goes back up, people may remember that you had introductory pricing, and they then expect you’ll do another round with another release, or you’ll put it on sale for Christmas. They think that they’ll never have to pay the regular price if they just wait. So demand dries up after the initial burst of sales — not only because it’s more expensive now but because they think it will be cheaper again.

I’m convinced — at the moment, at least — that the better approach in almost all cases is to launch with the regular price and never change it. (Unless you have very good reason to raise it.)

There’s also something to be said for stability and trustworthiness, which is reinforced by stable pricing.

So much of the App Store is junk from people you’ve never heard of. I’d rather buy software from people who make a great app and set a good price and who don’t try to make a game out of pricing. Those are the people I trust to be in it for the long haul and who I believe are focused on what counts: quality software.

Copying Email Address from Address Book

Every time I copy an email address from Address Book, I wonder why it’s so difficult. (Maybe it’s easier in Mountain Lion. I’m using Lion.)

I expect an email address to be treated as a unit, similar to how Mail treats an address, instead of as a collection of characters. (Except when editing.)

Instead it’s necessary to select the characters — triple-click, or click-hold-swipe, or click and cmd-A — and then copy.

James on Static Rendering

Programming in the 21st Century, Solving the Wrong Problem:

There’s no magic to serving simple, static pages. What’s surprising is that most implementers of blogging software are solving the wrong problems.

Dave on Steve Jobs

Dave Winer, A heretofore untold Steve Jobs story:

Anyway, as we were leaving the restaurant, all of a sudden we’re talking with Steve Jobs.

I won’t steal the punchline.

Each Generation is Doomed to Reinvent the CueCat

Here’s the thing about the CueCat: it wasn’t that the hardware sucked, it’s that people aren’t going to scan things to go to a web page.

And yet now we have QR codes, which we’re laughing at, and which will disappear like an American Idol contestant.

Five Years

We’re creeping up on the five-year anniversary of the Palm Foleo. I just wanted to remind you early, so you have time to rent banquet halls, compose new hymns, etc.

The Scoop on Siri

The folks at Scoople are not just bringing people news but also collecting sentiment about that news. A recent blog post: Siri - Even with all the Hype still Underestimated?:

We asked our Scoople users about the use of Siri for Internet search on their iPhone and we found that already 1/3 are using Siri for their search needs instead of Google.

Just Bought QuickCursor

With QuickCursor I can edit whatever text I see in BBEdit. (It supports a bunch of other editors too, of course.)

I wish I’d known about this app sooner. Heard about it from Alex King.

Frictionless Sharing Legal Implications

The Atlantic, How Frictionless Sharing Could Undermine Your Legal Right to Privacy:

And the problem with frictionless sharing is that it may leave the door open for the government to collect and use information without a warrant.

If you don’t have a reasonable expectation of privacy then the government can take advantage of that fact.

Josh on All the Trouble Designers are Now In

Josh Clark, 3.1 Million Pixels Are Heavy:

For utterly understandable business and workflow reasons, a vast number of publishers have adopted platforms like Woodwing and Adobe’s Digital Publishing Suite. Trouble is, these tools publish images of pages, not actual text-and-image layouts. They’re giant bitmaps.

And now those bitmaps need to be four times bigger. Or they could find a leaner, smarter way to publish.

Buzz Interview

Pixel Union interviews Buzz Andersen:

I think people have a tendency to internalize successes like Apple’s in a somewhat shallow way, and it seems to me that the conversation in the startup community increasingly equates novelty and visual flair with good design.

Good interview.

Tim on Mobile Money

Tim Bray:

And for the developers, crumbs. Scraps that fall off the edge of the table.


Rogue Amoeba on coding the VU meters in Piezo.

On Complaining About Xcode

For a Cocoa developer, Xcode is a synonym for air. So we grumble when it gets hard to breathe.

If you don’t sympathize at least a little with the Open Radar report Xcode just doesn’t work worth shit, then I think you’re not working hard enough.

But Daniel Pasco makes an excellent point: Radar or GTFO.


I only just now learned about chflags nohidden ~/Library. Sheesh. Needed that.

Hazel 3

My friend Paul Kim has released Hazel 3. Hazel cleans up for you.

Graham on Ads

Graham Lee:

The internet has produced its own new middle men, particularly Google and Facebook.

Design Article on Sharypic for iPhone

Sacha Greif writes about the making of Sharypic.